Emergency Recycling Fix by Ting Heads to the Governor

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Proposal is in response to the recent shut down of rePlanet recycling centers

After rePlanet shuttered its remaining 284 recycling centers in California last month, the State Assembly today sent Governor Newsom a temporary emergency solution proposed by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). AB 54 aims to relieve the long lines at remaining redemption sites and fill the void in areas that no longer have a center.

“We’ve been trying to solve California’s recycling problem for years. Now that it has turned into a crisis, the Legislature must act. AB 54 provides short-term relief while we work over the fall toward a more comprehensive fix that can start moving through the legislative process when we reconvene in January,” said Ting.

rePlanet was once California’s largest recycling company, operating about 20% of the redemption centers in the state. But a significant decrease in the scrap value of aluminum and recycled plastics has hampered their ability to stay open - even after the firm closed 191 centers in 2016 to cut costs. Exacerbating this problem are international market conditions, as countries around the world, most notably China, have imposed stricter standards on the types of waste materials they will purchase.

Emergency Recycling Fix by Ting Heads to the GovernorAB 54 allocates $5 million to implement a mobile recycling pilot program administered by CalRecycle. Under the pilot program, local governments, non-profits and others can apply for one of five grants to expand recycling opportunities in areas severely impacted by the rePlanet closures. At least one pilot location must be in a rural area. Ting’s bill also ensures roving redemption centers are open at least eight hours during the weekend when demand for services is highest, while relaxing other administrative requirements to streamline operations. In addition to AB 54, the 2019-20 state budget previously included another $5 million to help more than 400 low-volume recycling centers stay open.

AB 54 also temporarily suspends, through March 2020, the fines assessed on grocers required to take back beverage containers in-store when there are no recycling centers nearby. Due to the sudden closure of hundreds of centers, stores and staff across California are not prepared to assume the responsibility of providing redemption services at certain stores.

As with all bills sent to the Governor this month by the September 13 deadline, he has until October 13 to act.  If signed into law, AB 54 is an urgency measure that takes effect immediately.

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