California's largest recycling business closes all 284 centers, assuming 750


SAN JOSE, California (AP) – California's largest recycling redemption operator closed Monday and laid off 750 employees.

RePlanet closed all 284 of the company's centers, and its president David Lawrence said the decision was driven by increased business costs and falling prices for recycled aluminum and PET plastics, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The move came three years after RePlanet closed 191 of its recycling centers and laid off 278 workers.

Many San Francisco Bay Area residents now have little or no opportunity to redeem recyclable materials, especially those living in poverty or experiencing homelessness and relying on recovery for income.

RePlanet had three locations in San Francisco: one on Bayview Blvd., one on Williams Ave., and one on Pacific Supermarket. There were also three centers in Alameda.

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Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit that studies issues in California's recycling industry, estimated that more than 40% of all redemption centers has closed for the last five years. The closures mean that consumers only return about half of their nickel and separating bottle and can settle, according to a recent report from nonprofit organizations.

The closures also mean that more bottles made of aluminum and polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, will end up in landfills. People will either throw their recycling materials directly in the garbage, or place them in the recycling bin on the street, which is often filled with contaminated material that must be thrown away. China, which has purchased much of the US recyclable material, has become more stringent about what kind of material it will accept.

Attorneys urge the state to reform how it subsidizes recycling centers to account for rising operating costs in the wake of continuously low prices for aluminum and plastics.

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