- The Fresno, CA City Council voted unanimously to approve a new ordinance that would increase restrictions on California Redemption Value (CRV) recycling centers across the city, as reported by The Fresno Bee. If passed in a final vote, this ordinance would put 16 of the city's 22 centers out of business within the next year.
- The ordinance was introduced in response to a number of complaints from businesses and residents who say the recycling centers have attracted loitering from homeless people and drug users. However many recyclers and grocery store owners have pushed back, saying most consumers who utilize the redemption centers need the money, unlike consumers who toss their recyclables at the curb. Grocery stores also do not want an influx of people bringing dirty bags of recyclables into the stores for redemption.
- If passed, CRV recyclers operating from temporary structures will have six months to comply with the new ordinance, while recyclers with permanent structures will have a year, according to the Bee.
As Waste Dive reported in December 2016 when this issue in Fresno first came to light, finding a balance between collectors and large-scale operations has consistently been a challenge for states with bottle bills. Recycling fraud has been a repeated issue, especially in California, however the dependence that many low-income people have on these redemption centers has been highlighted time and time again. Therefore turning to grocery stores as an alternative option seems to be the best fit — and one that some grocers are legally obliged to.
California grocery stores that make more than $2 million in annual sales are required to have a nearby center for recycling disposal or an in-store recycling redemption option, or those grocery store owners can face a $100 daily fine. Yet some owners are pushing back saying it's not "reasonable" to pay those fines, and some other owners are already struggling to handle volumes due to the closure of more than 269 redemption centers across California in 2015-2016.
The closure of redemption centers has had a negative effect on the lines at transfer stations, too — a problem which will continue to increase without a tangible solution. If other California cities follow the lead of Fresno in introducing new ordinances to crack down on CRV redemption centers, the state could face an unprecedented challenge, causing it to possibly fall behind as a leader in recycling.