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Report: Californians losing out on recycling deposits, but number of recycling centers is dwindling

Californians are losing millions of dollars in recycling deposits.

That’s according to a report released on Thursday by the advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog. They say people lost out on more than $300 million in nickel deposits on cans and bottles in 2018.

Aluminum cans will get you $1.61 per pound. While that can add up quick, recycling centers aren’t that abundant, especially on the Central Coast.

In the Five Cities area of San Luis Obispo County, there is only one recycling center currently open.

“I mean, people stop recycling because there’s no recycling centers around and the ones that are are closing down so I understand why they’re losing so much money,” said Julio Garcia, owner of Recycle 101 in Oceano.

Garcia opened his recycling center back in October. He knows they are few and far between.

“We have what are called 11 dead zones and what that means is that they used to have recycling centers for CRV, now they’ve closed. So at the IWMA, we’re actively working to get those centers opened back up,” said Patti Toews, SLO County Integrated Waste Management Authority Program Director.

Today, there are fewer than 10 recycling centers open and operating in San Luis Obispo County. In 2012, Consumer Watchdog says there were 20.

The advocacy group reported that more than 40-percent of the state’s recycling centers closed in the last five years and many grocery stores won’t take back the empties.

Ana Blazquez of Grover Beach was at the Oceano recycling center on Thursday.

She says for her, recycling is a win-win.

“I am doing my small part,” Blazquez said. “Every family saves a little money and help to keep cleaner.”

The report faults state regulators for not doing more. It recommends increasing the amount of deposits to encourage more recycling.

CalRecycle said in a statement, “Overall, the program has been highly successful but recent years have brought challenges.”

It went on to say that the agency is looking for ways to help increase buy-back locations.

The IWMA says in May, it plans to discuss CRV and possible funding avenues to get more centers back open.

Democratic State Senator Henry Stern is working to make changes to the recycling program, as well.

The state says 1,600 centers remain open statewide.

Alexa Bertola

Alexa Bertola

Alexa Bertola has been a Multimedia Journalist at KSBY for more than two years. She's a general assignment reporter. Story idea? Email her: abertola@ksby.com
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