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Sacramento recycle center shutters, blames California agency for ‘irate’ customers


  1. skybrian
    From the article: […]

    From the article:

    Luong in his email to CalRecycle said the closure was the result of strict enforcement by the state.

    “Due to aggressive enforcement action by CalRecycle, we told our staff to step up our inspection process,” Luong wrote in the email. “As a result, lines became longer and customers became more irate. When our employees reject a beverage container because of a missing label, they always get yelled at by the customer, and in this case, got assaulted.”

    Workers must closely inspect for missing labels on beverage containers, Donlevy said, because state-issued fines for doing so can range from $100 to $5,000.

    Donlevy said CalRecycle would conduct “secret shopper”-style inspections to check that recycle center workers were inspecting each bottle for a valid label, hitting centers with fines if any were missed.

    “Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard from other recycling centers that CalRecycle has stepped up aggressive enforcement in Northern California,” Donlevy said. “They come in and they expect 100% compliance on inspecting loads that come in. So when a consumer comes in, we have to check every bottle.”

    In an emailed response, spokeswoman Maria West said CalRecycle is exploring Ming’s specific concerns, but that the agency “has had no findings of violations against Ming’s Recycling center in the last five years.”

    “CalRecycle takes enforcement action to ensure compliance with the law and prevent fraud by ensuring bottle and can deposits are not paid out for other materials where no deposit was paid,” West said. “The department takes seriously its obligation to protect deposit funds that belong to people of California. We need to make sure they are used for recycling the bottles and cans in this program.”

    Donlevy argued that the state’s enforcement actions are not an efficient means of preventing fraud, instead punishing recycling centers and consumers for small mistakes that are unintentional in most cases.


    Longstanding frustrations by CRV buyback operators with the enforcement are being exacerbated by Senate Bill 1013, nicknamed the “Bottle Bill,” which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law last year, Donlevy said.

    SB 1013 will add wine and spirits containers to the CRV buyback program starting in 2024. But it also increases the maximum penalty for violations by recycling centers to $5,000 from $1,000.

    Hundreds of bottle and can redemption centers have shuttered in recent years — before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of buyback centers in California dropped from more than 2,600 in 2013 to fewer than 1,300 in 2019. There are now about 1,260, according to the CalRecycle website, including 64 in Sacramento County.

    Consumer Watchdog, a consumer advocacy group, sent a letter to Newsom in 2019 alleging that “gross mismanagement” at CalRecycle was responsible for the mass closures, saying the agency required change in leadership and modernization of its systems.

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