California's recycling rate takes major hit due to statewide recycling center closures

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- With fewer recycling options statewide, California's recycling rate has taken a major hit.

For Riverside resident Andres Avalos, recycling is a convenient way to earn extra spending money close to home.

"A little extra cash always helps, so I bag them up and bring them right down," Avalos said.

For John Gannon, recycling is his only way of getting by day-to-day living on the streets.

"This is how I eat," he said. "You know, there's other days when I don't have anything to eat."

Neighborhood recycling centers are becoming a rarity. Since 2012, many have shut down.

In San Bernardino County, there are 31 fewer places to recycle. In Riverside County, they are down 28. In Orange County, there are 31 fewer places and Los Angeles saw the sharpest decline with 108 redemption centers closing in four years.

Their departure is due in part to the market value of recyclables.

"Those prices are very volatile," said Susan Collins of the Container Recycling Institute. "The state is meant to make up the difference when the prices go down."

Collins said the state is not making up the difference. She said the state's outdated repayment formula has underpaid recycling centers by $50 million.

With fewer options, California's recycling rate dipped below 80% for the first time in eight years. That is millions of containers that will end up in a landfill.

"We really can't afford to see a program like this slip away," Collins said.
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