rePlanet lays off hundreds of workers, closes recycling centers

ONTARIO, Calif. (KABC) -- The future of rePlanet, the state's largest recycling business, is in doubt, with multiple employees saying they were laid off on Saturday.

Recycling centers for rePlanet were closed on Monday all across Southern California.

rePlanet officials did not comment, instead saying a press release would be issued later in the day.

"Just overnight, done," said Andrew Zavala who got the news on Saturday while attending a meeting at headquarters. He'd been with rePlanet for more than a decade.

"At the meeting they said we're filing bankruptcy, and today's your last day."

Zavala estimates more than 600 employees were laid off. Eyewitness News spoke with employees at the rePlanet facility in Rancho Cucamonga who said they will probably be let go in a couple of weeks.

The move comes three years after rePlanet laid off 278 employees and closed 191 recycling centers. At the time, a press release said it would allow its remaining 800 employees to continue providing recycling services. The press release, dated February 1, 2016, explained the reason for the layoffs:

"Following the most recent reduction in State fees on January 1st 2016 and after enduring twelve months of unprecedented declines in commodities pricing of aluminum and PET plastic, coupled with the mandated rise in operating costs as a result of minimum wage increases and required health and workers compensation insurance, the Company has concluded that operation of these recycling centers is no longer sustainable."

Zavala said he knew the business had struggled through the years, but thought things were improving.

"It was a shock, because we just recently had begun buying new equipment, and it looked like we were going on the upside of the things, and all of a sudden the business is closed."

A recent report by Consumer Watchdog explained that the number of recycling centers statewide has dropped dramatically in recent years. The website reported that while there were 2,600 recycling centers in 2013, that number has dropped to close to 1,500 right now.

Employees like Zavala are left wondering what they'll do next.

"They say one door shuts, and hopefully two or three more open.So trying to look at the bright side."
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