Mark Klotz, with help from Hambro WSG employee Brent Van Wormer, hurriedly sorted through case after case of glass bottles, dumping them in plastic trash barrels to be weighed, bailed and processed.

Klotz brought 40 cases to the new buy back center at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds on Wednesday. All the material came from the VFW canteen, he said, adding he’ll separate the material by color next time he visits.

“All the funds (will) go to scholarships,” Klotz said.

Between 15 and 20 people showed up to the new buy back center during its first hour of operation eager to cash in on the aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles they have accumulated since Julindra closed its doors in September.

Hambro General Manager Joel Wallen said the firm was ready in case of a rush, having a second scale they could deploy if things began slowing down, but so far things have been running smoothly. Hambro employees helped Del Norters sort through their material, screening for moisture, dirt and other contamination. They then weigh the items, fill out a weight slip and hand it to the customer who then stands in line to obtain their refund, Wallen said.

“We’re still working the bugs out, but our process is working as planned,” he said.

According to Wallen, the California Refund Value material is taken from the fairgrounds to Hambro’s facility on Elk Valley Road. From there the items are bailed, loaded onto a truck and sent to Bigfoot Recycling in Redding or Ming’s Recycling Corporation in Sacramento for processing.

Hambro WSG announced in November that it would be stepping into Julindra’s shoes.

When Julindra closed on Sept. 23 the closest buy back center to Crescent City was in McKinleyville. This left three convenience zones in the community unserved, according to Lance Klug, a spokesman with the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery.

The department also notified local stores selling CRV beverage containers of the closure and sought comment from them on whether those zones should be exempt from having a buy back center. According to Klug, convenience zones are established within a half mile radius of a CRV retailer that has $2 million or more in annual sales. Among the largest in the three convenience zones are Safeway, Walmart and Grocery Outlet.

With Hambro opening a buy back center at the fairgrounds, the convenience zones that include Safeway and Grocery Outlet are now served, Klug said Wednesday. The zone that includes Walmart is slightly further away and while there’s no automatic exemption process that is triggered when a new recycling center opens, CalRecycle can make an administrative request to conduct a new convenience zone exemption review.

“In light of the new recycling center, the zone created by Walmart appears to meet conditions favorable for exemption,” Klug said in an email. “These conditions include: Ease of access to redemption center by consumers, reasonable distance to the next closest recycling center, consumers in an area predominantly (using) a curbside program for recycling and recycling centers in the area fail to meet a sufficient volume for economic viability.”

If the Hambro buy back center closes, all three zones would be unserved and CRV beverage retailers would be required to provide the refund to those seeking to redeem the materials, Klug said.

Tedd Ward, director of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, noted that although Hambro’s buy back center only accepts CRV material, the authority is delighted that people have a local place to take their bottles and cans for the 5-10 cent refund.

“They do have limits on how much they can take each day,” Ward said. “They’re willing to take up to 1,000 pounds of glass or 100 pounds of aluminum or plastic per day.”

Ward said the scrap value for other recyclable commodities are not stable or high enough to cover the handling and sorting costs associated with them and that CalRecycle doesn’t offer payments for non-beverage container materials. He noted that Hambro is also not storing anything at the fairgrounds, that the material is trucked to its facility on Elk Valley Road.

Wallen also noted that people should remove plastic caps from the material they bring in and any plastic bags or boxes that they bring the items in back with them.

The new buy back center will be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds. For more information, call 866-321-8826.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@gmail.com .

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