Having been born in 1951, I’m part of the Baby Boomer generation who realized that our consumer culture had created a serious threat to the health of our natural environment. In the early 1970’s, as part of my contribution to the healing of the planet, I started separating my glass, metal, and cardboard refuse out from the rest of my garbage, and carting it to a recycling station (incidentally, glass had to be separated into green, brown, & clear). In those days, in Connecticut, recycling stations consisted of a series of cement alleyways; I’d stand at the open end of the alley & hurl bottles toward the cement wall at the closed end. For some reason, the sound of the smashing glass was always satisfying to me. Later, when municipalities developed recycling programs and citizens were provided with bins to fill and put out at the curb, I was very grateful for the convenience (even though I missed smashing the bottles). I can truthfully say that I’ve been a recycler all of my adult life. When agencies began offering money for beverage containers, I interpreted it as a bonus ~ how fortunate for us that we can receive our bottle & can deposit money back! I’m a big believer in win-win situations, and I consider the fact that recycling centers also provide employment to be yet another constructive contribution to our society. I’m also aware that CRV redemption provides necessary income to those who are less fortunate than I. I’m proud of California’s neighborhood recycling infrastructure, and it concerns me to learn that 957 centers have closed since 2013. I would be greatly distressed if the RePlanet Center in Nipomo were to close, both on my behalf, and on behalf of the employees who work there, providing what I consider to be an essential public service.
James Westly has worked for Millenia Recycling for the past three years and manages the on-site recycling operations at the Bloomington location in San Bernardino County. James likes his job and enjoys working outdoors and getting to interact with interesting people. He knows many of his regular customers by name. If the state doesn’t do more to help local recyclers, James worries what that will mean for him financially, and for his customers.
“I don’t think legislators realize what recycling means to local communities. For some, it is critical money that helps them get by each day. Some families save up their recycling and come in every month to get a little extra cash. We even have some customers who recycle simply because they believe it is the right thing to do, and they donate their cash to the next person in line who really needs it. If more centers close, it hurts people and communities, and certainly hurts employees like me whose jobs may be at risk.”
“Yes! I do recycle! Many of us fall on hard times and need every penny we can get – including mothers such as myself. Also, if they are going to CHARGE CRV, then yes we should be able to redeem our deposits!? And what about the planet? Our Mother Earth?! Teaching our kids to help keep it green and healthy… what will they do? Just add to trash pile!? I sure hope this doesn’t happen! We need our centers!”
Gary Tatar owns six small recycling centers in the Inland Empire and San Diego and employs eight full-time employees. He got into the business in 2014 because he believes that recycling – and keeping products out of landfills – is important now and for future generations, like his granddaughter. He worries that, absent state action to increase and stabilize payments to recyclers, he may have to close his doors.
“Recyclers have fixed costs, such as labor and rent. When payments fall short or fluctuate, it makes it very difficult to manage our basic operations because our margins are already quite thin. If the funding crisis isn’t resolved, I worry I will go out of business. That doesn’t just hurt me. It hurts my employees who depend on the income, and my customers who want a convenient way to redeem their deposits.”