Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ojai's Recycling Options Dwindle

Vons only recycling center left in Ojai

By Nao Braverman
When the small recycling center on El Roblar across from to Ace Hardware in Meiners Oaks closed down at the end of June, local residents were concerned that there weren’t any reliable places to get money back for their bottles and cans.
Ojai resident Harry Lehr said that he was accustomed to bringing his recyclables to Meiners Oaks until they closed. When he went to Vons supermarket, he found the center was rarely attended and did not receive proper service at Dahl’s Market in Oak View. Though he later added that the service at Dahl’s Market had improved, some local residents didn’t want to drive that far to save a few pennies.
According to Mark Oldfield, spokesperson for the California Department of Conservation, the Meiners Oaks outfit, owned by Guadalupe Cervantes closed down when a conservation department investigator found that the operator had falsified records of material accepted and redeemed, and sometimes paid customers less than the required amount for their used containers.
All certified recycling centers, though privately owned, are strictly regulated by the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Recycling, said Oldfield.
The state requires every supermarket with $2 million or more in annual sales to have a recycling center within half a mile of the establishment. In many cases they will have a “convenience zone” where they allow a recycling center to operate on their property free of charge so that they can fulfill the state requirement.
This makes it convenient for customers to get back the California Redemption Value for every bottle they purchase.
The CRV, an extra few cents tacked onto each customer’s grocery list for every bottled item, was only one penny per bottle or can when it was established in 1987 and has now increased to 5 cents per container.
Though the Ace Hardware building on El Roblar near the closed recycling center did house several supermarkets before it became the hardware chain, the area, with no large supermarket, is no longer mandated to have a recycling facility.
Currently the Vons supermarket in the Ojai Valley Shopping Center is the only Ojai market required to have a recycling center.
Their operation is located behind the supermarket building and is in operation Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to a facility operator Saul Vaca. The center refunds customers the standard 5 cents per can or glass or plastic bottle, $1.65 per pound for cans, 89 cents per pound for plastic bottles and 10 cents a pound for glass bottles .
Many larger companies will pay a “scrap value”, which is usually slightly more than the standard 5 cents per bottle, said David Goldstein, analyst for the Ventura County public works agency.
City residents who do not go to the recycling centers can sort them in separate bags and leave them for the local trash pickup company, E.J Harrison & Sons.
Though the companies accumulate a much greater volume of recyclables than the average household, they still do not make a profit off of their recycled goods, said Nan Drake, spokesperson for E.J. Harrison & Sons.
The company has to make an extra trip to each household for recycling, so there is the cost of gas, and then the labor to sort recyclables is also costly, she said. Many households recycle mostly newspapers and other items which have to be sorted but not to generate funds, she said. Some items such as glass have to be hauled all the way to Los Angeles, which is expensive, she said. It does fluctuate however and if a lot of money is made from bottles and cans one month, there are some months where the recycling service loses money for the company, according to Drake.
In a column he wrote for the Ventura County Star, Goldstein said that recycling generates 14 times more jobs person than land filling because there are so many different places for each type of recycling item.
Most curbside recyclables are initially trucked to transfer stations in Ventura and Oxnard. They are then sorted and most paper and plastic is then shipped to China, said Goldstein.
dGlass bottles have to go to a plant in Vernon, Calif. where they separated from their labels, crushed, and then cleaned before being trucked to the Bay Area where they are melted into new glass bottles or jars, he said.
Though there are smelters in Los Angeles, many aluminum cans from Ventura County go all the way to Texas before being recycled and many get exported to Asia, according to Goldstein.
Though Ventura County companies use recycled plastic. most plastic bottles have to go at least as far as Long Beach to be processed before they can be used by local manufacturers, he said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used to use the place in miners oaks to recycle. Now it is a pain in the a** to drive to oak view or oxnard. I have stopped collecting at work which used to be a large leaf bag a day. It is too bad that Ojai can not get it together.