rePlanet Out of Business—California’s Recycling Dilemma

rePlanet Out of Business—California’s Recycling Dilemma


California’s largest recycling business, rePlanet, is the most recent recycling company to call it quits.  News broke a little more than a week ago that employees were being laid off at several locations. Subsequently, on Monday, August 5, 2019 the company announced it had ceased operations and closed all 284 recycling centers and processing facilities across California—including those in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. The company also terminated all 750 employees.  In a written statement rePlanet said, “With the continued reduction in state fees, the depressed pricing of recycled aluminum and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic and the rise in operating costs resulting from minimum wage increases and required health and workers compensation insurance, the company has concluded that operation of these recycling centers and supporting operations is no longer sustainable.”  The company said rather than filing for relief under federal bankruptcy law, instead it chose to file for Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors—an insolvency proceeding that is governed by state law.  The Consumer Watchdog organization claimed it  warned just months ago that the bottle deposit program was in crisis and today’s closure shows consumers are being left in the lurch by the failure of the state to keep recycling centers open,” consumer advocate Liza Tucker says in the Consumer Watchdog news release. “Gov. Newsom needs to tackle this problem personally and make reform of the broken bottle deposit system a top priority this fall. CalRecycle has failed to deal with the problems we have raised, and they have now become a full-blown crisis for consumers and recycling in California.” The Consumer Watch organization issued a report earlier in the year indicating the bottle deposit program was in crisis allegedly due to the failure of the state to keep recycling centers open. According to the report consumers only get about half of their deposits back each year. For example, consumers paid $1.5 billion in California Refund Value (CRV) in 2018. Consumer Watch has recommended California make it mandatory for retailers that sell beverages in bottles and cans to accept CRV beverage containers for recycling, noting that 8 out of 9 other states require beverage retailers to take empties back at the stores that sell them along with redemption centers. “We regret that these site closures will negatively impact our employees, grocer partners, customers and the recycling community at large,” the replant officials offered. “We thank our employees for their hard work and dedication in providing convenient recycling opportunities to our valued customers across the state of California.” More than 40 percent of California redemption centers have closed in recent years. 

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