Two weeks after Del Norte County’s only buy-back center for bottles and cans closed its doors, the question of who will fill Julindra’s shoes has yet to be answered.
One, possibly two, companies are looking into opening a buy-back center in Del Norte County, according to Tedd Ward, director of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority. He declined to name those companies, saying they are still investigating whether or not they want to pursue a buy-back center in Del Norte County.
“This is a private business decision and while it’s a very strong community interest, I don’t think it’s fair to put somebody in a role where they’re considering stepping up to do something and then getting all sorts of public scrutiny,” he said.
Recology is not one of the companies looking into opening a buy-back center, Ward said.
Meanwhile Ward has sent a letter to the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery, which is holding a public hearing Monday to adjust payments made to buy-back centers. His Sept. 29 letter informs the department — also known as CalRecycle — of Julindra’s closure, notes that 900 buy-back centers in the state have closed since 2013 and calls for “swift action to stabilize California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program.”
“The idea is that CalRecycle is supposed to make payments to processors of these recyclable commodities so they remain profitable even when scrap values go down,” Ward said Wednesday, adding that one reason for the decline in buy-back centers over the past four years is a down-turn in the market.
The closest buy-back center to Del Norte County currently is Humboldt Sanitation & Recycling in McKinleyville. Residents can bring their bottles and cans to one of the community drop off bins. Residential customers of Recology can also include their bottles and cans with their other recyclables. There are also several street-side recycling containers available in Crescent City. But consumers bringing bottles and cans to the community recycling bins or including them in a residential curbside receptacle won’t receive their California Refund Value of 5-10 cents.
Meanwhile local stores selling CRV beverage containers will receive public comment notices from CalRecycle starting next week. According to department spokesman Lance Klug, this starts the exemption review process and allows people to weigh in on whether or not a convenience zone should be exempt from having a recycling center within its boundaries.
A convenience zone is established within a half mile radius of a CRV retailer that has $2 million or more in annual sales, Klug said via e-mail. Dealers outside a convenience zone are required to post a sign at public entrances indicating the closest recycling center. The exemption process won’t affect these outside dealers, Klug said.
According to Klug, there are three convenience zones in Crescent City and nine retailers within those zones that are impacted with Julindra’s closing. These include Crescent City Chevron, Discount Liquor, Grocery Outlet, Wild Rivers Market, Redwood Mini Mart, Rite Aid, Safeway, Walgreens and Walmart.
An exemption determination is made after a 30 day public comment period — in this case, likely around the beginning of November, Klug said. If exemptions are denied, CRV retailers receive a first notice informing them that a recycling center has closed. Those stores can choose to set up a buy-back kiosk on their property, accept CRV items from consumers in the store or pay a daily $100 opt-out fee, Klug said.
Del Norte’s two largest CRV retailers, Safeway and Walmart, are still figuring out how they want to address Julindra’s closure.
Walmart manager Peter Davis said the store is working with the state on whether or not it should have a recycling kiosk for CRV material.
“From what we hear, we’re required to have one, we just don’t know who’s going to have them yet,” he said.
Brian Ridgely, store manager at Safeway, said he also has asked his company how it’s going to handle Julindra’s closure. No one has brought their bottles and cans to the store for recycling, he said, but his staff has received questions about it.
When he worked in Portland, Ridgely said the store had machines that would accept the bottles and cans, print out a ticket with the amount of money consumers could redeem inside the store.
“If they’re going to charge a CRV, I believe the state has to provide a facility in order (for consumers) to redeem those funds I would think,” Ridgely said. “That would only make logical sense, but there again I don’t know; I’m waiting on an answer to see what’s going to happen.”
While Recology Del Norte doesn’t intend to operate a buy-back center for CRV material, it will continue to accept clean cardboard at Julindra’s former location at 1039 Harrold Street, said general manager Jeremy Herber. A buy-back center requires a special license through the state, he said.
Recology Del Norte has also been bringing the recycling it collects curbside to Julindra for shipping to its processing plant in Samoa, Herber said. Three truckloads are sent to the Samoa facility a week, he said.
“We’re not sorting it, we’re just holding it there and loading it up and sending it down to Samoa,” Herber said. “We hold it for 24 (to) no more than 48 hours and then it’s loaded on a truck and gone.”
Since Julindra has closed, a handful of people have taken to Facebook to ask how they should go about recycling their bottles and cans. Some have suggested taking them to the Fred Meyer kiosk in Brookings, but Ward said even if the machine did take the material, the consumer likely won’t be paid for it.
When asked if taking CRV material to Oregon for recycling is illegal or not, Ward said he couldn’t say for sure.
“I do know that when you buy a bottle or a can in California and you pay a nickel deposit, none of that money goes to Oregon,” Ward said. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Oregon wasn’t interested in paying you for that bottle and can because they don’t have any money for it.”
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org.