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December 31, 2009

Recorder Online

Some state recycling funding cut
Sites: Porterville locations remain open

Though budget mishaps have hit California’s recycling program hard, rumors that recyclables will not longer be accepted after Jan. 1 are false.

The loss of state funds for some recycling programs has led to confusion among recycling center customers, said operators of multiple Porterville recycling centers.

A notice from the Department of Conservation’s Division of Recycling Oct. 20 revealed that the Beverage Container Recycling Fund, which holds California Redemption Value (CRV) money, no longer has enough to cover a number of grant programs and incentive payments — but the overall recycling system will remain intact.

At Boomerang Recycling — the largest recycling center between Bakersfield and Fresno, run mainly by Porterville Sheltered Workshop clients — manager Mike Gerdes said the cuts have spawned rumors of a cessation of California’s entire recycling program.

“I’ve had four phone calls and two people asking at the window just today,” he said Wednesday.

The false information has spurred Porterville residents to rush in their recyclables in fear they would no longer be able to recoup the CRV deposit in 2010, Gerdes said.

At C & T Recycling, located at 605 E. Date Ave., owner Ignacio Ceballos said he, like Gerdes, has spent time with customers reassuring them that their centers will not close because of the cuts.

“People are saying all the recycling places are going to close, but it’s not true,” Ceballos said.

Though Abel Garcia of A. G. Recycling isn’t worried about his main location on Olive Avenue, he has been wondering if he can keep his new, secondary location in the black.

He recently opened a second A. G. Recycling site at 943 W. Westfield Ave. and expected to receive a monthly check from a DOR program supporting recycling centers within half a mile of a supermarket without its own recycling facility.

“We never figured the state would run out of money,” Garcia said.

Another victim of the shortage of state funds for programs established during better times, Garcia will no longer receive the monthly check of around $2,000 he thought his secondary location would receive.

A previous reduction of funds to 85 percent in July preempted the October notice, effective Nov. 1, of the final cut of all prior payments.

The DOR Web page cites an increase in containers redeemed and a “flattening” in container sales trends.

According to the Oct. 20 notice, the number of empty beverage containers redeemed has risen from 67 percent in 2007 to 74 percent for 2008.

Higher recycling volumes resulted in more refunds for consumers, as well as higher payments to recyclers, the report stated.

The sole employee at the Westfield site of A. G. Recycling, Wenceslao Haro, said he would be concerned for those who collect recyclables to support themselves if the site did have to close.

“My usual customers are people that go collect them, not people who bring them here from their homes,” he said.

He averages 30 to 40 customers per day at the small, outdoor collection facility.

Haro said the loss of state funds caught him by surprise.

“That’s what this [location] was intended for,” he said. Even so, Haro said he believes the center will survive in the long run.

“Everything comes in cycles. Sooner or later [the funding] will come back,” he said.

Customers have kept the site humming, but at A.G. Recycling, Garcia said funds from the recycling material he purchases are not likely to balance out the second site’s bills without the state’s subsidies.

“Pretty much, we’re counting on the check,” he said.

According to the DOR Web site, the payments to recyclers will be reviewed quarterly and adjusted if warranted by the balance of the Recycling Fund.


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