From staff and wire reports
RePlanet, California’s largest operator of recycling redemption centers, has shut down all 284 of its locations and laid off 750 employees.
In the mid-Peninsula, RePlanet had redemption centers in Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, North Fair Oaks and San Mateo.
RePlanet’s president David Lawrence says the company stopped operating because of increased business costs and falling prices of recycled aluminum and PET plastic.
Now Bay Area residents are left with few options for redeeming their recyclables, which is especially concerning for those who live in poverty or experience homelessness and rely on recycling for income.
Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit that studies issues in California’s recycling industry, estimated that more than 40% of all redemption centers have closed in the last five years. The closures result in consumers only getting back about half of their nickel and dime bottle and can deposits, according to a recent report from the nonprofit.
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 recyclables directly into the garbage, or place them in curbside recycling bins, which are often filled with contaminated material that must be discarded. China, which has bought much of the U.S.’s recyclable material, has become stricter about what kinds of material it will accept.
Advocates are urging the state to reform how it subsidizes recycling centers. They worry that now more recyclables will end up in landfills.
The move comes three years after RePlanet closed 191 of its recycling centers and laid off almost 300 employees.
RePlanet’s local locations included:
• 164 Cambridge Ave. in Palo Alto;
• 1000 Rengstorff Ave. (Costco parking lot) and 1350 Grant Road (Nob Hill parking lot) in Mountain View;
• 200 Woodside Plaza (Lucky parking lot) and 1155 Veterans Blvd. (Kmart parking lot) in Redwood City;
• 46 Fifth Ave. (next to Chavez Market) in North Fair Oaks;
• 666 Concar Drive (Rite Aid parking lots) in San Mateo.