- The Ratto Group recently debuted a newly renovated material recovery facility in Santa Rosa, CA after spending eight months and $8 million on improvements, as reported by The Press Democrat. Sonoma County health inspectors required the shutdown after inspections found excessive levels of solid waste at the facility — upward of 20% — due to recycling contamination.
- Upgrades to their sorting operations include a $250,000 drum feeder, a new glass separator, an electromagnetic eddy current separator, and new overhead ducts to carry aluminum and paper. Ratto also spent $1 million on new asphalt and concrete, $175,000 on a wastewater containment system, installed new support beams and new lighting, and upgraded pest control systems.
- The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery is in the process of inspecting the facility and could grant a new permit as early as August 15. Eric Potashner, vice president of Recology, attended a recent facility tour and again confirmed that the company's acquisition of The Ratto Group is nearing completion. “I think they are setting it up for us very nicely," he told The Press Democrat.
The Ratto Group, a long-time dominant force in Sonoma County, has been encountering expensive challenges over the past year after getting hit with significant fines for local facility and contract violations. The company has since reached an agreement with the county to upgrade its two material recovery facilities in Santa Rosa — the other is scheduled to shut down on August 15 — and also paid the city a $2 million settlement earlier this year. This work has continued amid negotiations to sell the company to Recology.
During this process, the company lost out on retaining a collection contract in the town of Windsor and initially appeared to be out of favor for another renewal in Santa Rosa. That has since changed, and Recology may now be awarded the contract as soon as this month, though the Santa Rosa City Council has yet to confirm that the item is under consideration for their next meeting on August 29.
However Santa Rosa proceeds, Recology can be expected to bring their expertise in advanced recycling services from cities such as San Francisco to at least some of Ratto's existing customers at a time when quality is becoming more important than ever. Though the immediate effects of China's new scrap import ban remain unknown, and many of the industry's largest companies are trying to downplay the fallout, it's clear that there will be little room for recycling contamination — especially for west coast operations. Customer education is also an important element of reducing these contamination levels, but investments in newer sorting technology like what Ratto has done will be critical to staying competitive.