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A new recycling ecosystem may require different behavior, legislation


Where to recycle

McCourtney Road Transfer Station, 14741 Wolf Mountain Road

North San Juan Transfer Station, 10125 Flume St., North San Juan


To find recycling centers near you, go to http://www.bottlesandcans.com

In 2012, Celestial Valley Ventures, Inc. opened the business that would become Grass Valley Recycle.

Friday will be the center’s last day.

“Every day that this place is open, we’re losing money,” said Doug Bigley, president of Celestial Valley Ventures, Inc.

It’s still unknown what will become of the recycling center, said Bigley.

One of the main reasons for the closure: “The scrap metal market has crashed,” Bigley said.

Grass Valley Recycle never made money through California Redemption Value products, recyclables like bottles, plastics and beer cans. Rather, it made a profit through aluminum. But with the explosion of plastic goods and a dearth — and lowered value — of aluminum, the center couldn’t continue.

CalRecycle spokesperson Lance Klug agreed.

Aluminum is worth less and “there’s not as much of it,” he said.

Now, “Everybody — including Waste Management — is just throwing this stuff in the landfill,” said Bigley.

Grass Valley Recycle was servicing 140 people per day, seven days per week, said Bigley.

The umbrella company had 18 employees. Now there are four.


In 2017, China stopped accepting one-sixth of America’s recyclables as it had been, citing “dirty” and “hazardous” materials, according to NPR reporting. Consequently, much of what used to be recycled has now become garbage, laying in landfills.

Simply sending recyclables to other countries is an issue: Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and India have begun instituting bans similar to China’s on importing scrap plastic and electronic waste, according to CalRecycle.

The recent change is cutting into the state’s desire to reduce, recycle or compost 75% of its waste by 2020, according to CalMatters.

Since August, 270 recycling center locations have closed, said Klug.

Despite these closures and problems with selling recycled goods, Klug said certain plastics, labeled with the numbers 3 and 7, still have strong buyers in international markets. Plastics labeled 1 and 2 maintain strong domestic markets.

Still, Klug said California’s recycling problem may have to be resolved on the front-end of production instead of back-end sales.

“About one out of every four things is packaging waste,” said Klug.

The California Legislature has written a set of bills to address manufacturer responsibility, according to CalMatters. If passed, those companies will have to make “all single-use packaging and the ten most littered single-use plastics out of recyclable or compostable materials by 2030.”

“California’s in a position of transition now,” said Klug. “Recycling is changing, (but) it’s not dead.”


Paul Rosynsky, spokesperson for Waste Management’s Northern California/Nevada region, said he expects the number of recycled items at the McCourtney Road Transfer Station to rise with the closure of Grass Valley Recycle. But Rosynsky — whose company contracts with Nevada County — doesn’t know the exact numbers.

He said the company just “made a pledge not to send any plastics overseas,” and to send them instead to processors in North America. Rosynsky said Waste Management does not rely on landfills.

To make the job of recyclers easier, he said people should be meticulous about what they’re recycling. It needs to be “clean and dry,” said Rosynsky, leaving no food or liquid left over.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.

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