Redeeming your deposit on aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers just got harder. rePlanet, a recycling company with four locations in Monterey County, shuttered its 284 recycling centers and processing facilities effective Aug. 5.
“I’m really shocked that they went out of business – there’s a real need for it,” says Jim Barsi, owner of Barsi Liquors in Watsonville and landlord of an adjacent rePlanet location. “They ran a good operation – kept their center clean, and helped clean the area up.”
rePlanet, which closed 191 recycling centers in 2016, operated locations where residents could redeem their California Redemption Value (CRV), a 5 – or 10-cent fee levied on eligible beverage containers to encourage recycling. According to Lance Klug, a spokesperson for CalRecycle, the state recycled approximately 76 percent of the 24 billion beverage containers sold in 2018, in large part due to CRV-redemption locations like the ones operated by rePlanet, which handled 18 percent of the state’s low-volume recycling market.
“They pay a nickel or a dime per beverage can, and sell it on the scrap markets,” Klug says. “But the low cost of oil and raw materials has made the market for plastics much more attractive, and the issue with exporting plastics has sent the price for recyclable commodities significantly down.”
In years past, companies like rePlanet would collect recyclables, pay out the CRV deposit, then sell the scrap to countries like China – until 2017, when China issued regulations on the import of foreign recyclables that essentially eliminated the market.
In a press release, rePlanet cited “the depressed pricing of recycled aluminum and PET plastic, the rise in operating costs resulting from minimum wage increases and required health and workers compensation insurance” as reasons for its closing.
Even without the rePlanet locations – three in Watsonville and one in Salinas – there are 15 recycling centers and more than 50 retailers in Monterey County where residents can still redeem their CRV.