The largest bottle and can recycling center chain in California, RePlanet, has shut down all of its centers and laid off its 750 employees; company president David Lawrence says the move comes because of increased business costs and the falling prices of recycled aluminum and PET plastic, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The company has ceased operations and is undergoing a process of liquidating its assets, including 284 centers, and paying creditors (via East Bay Times). In 2016, the company shut down 191 recycling centers, citing a reduction in state fees and “twelve months of unprecedented declines in commodities pricing of aluminum and PET plastic,” among other challenges.
RePlanet allowed consumers to bring cans and bottles to its centers, or to its locations within some grocery stores, and redeem them for money or grocery vouchers.
Closure of the recycling centers will likely mean that more PET bottles and aluminum cans will end up in landfills, environmentalists worry. Nonprofit organization Consumer Watchdog is urging California’s agency in charge of recycling, CalRecycle, to require grocery stores and convenience stores to redeem cans and bottles. The organization estimates that more than 40% of the state’s redemption centers have closed in the last five years.
Following the 2016 closures, RePlanet said it had participated in numerous meetings with CalRecycle to try and resolve issues surrounding the Beverage Container Recycling Fund, which was critical to the overall success of the program. “If and when the State makes the necessary changes that allow us to operate profitably, we welcome the opportunity to reopen as many recycling centers as possible,” the company said.