Safeway closed down recycling centers because of transient problem? Not because the bottom is dropping out of the recycling business?

26 Feb

The other  day I read an article in the Enterprise Record indicating that the NexCycle recycling centers located at Safeway and other grocery stores around town are closing, due to “customer feedback” regarding criminal activities surrounding these centers. 

I was shocked, because I know there’s a law that says grocers have to provide recycling services within a certain distance of their store, unless there’s already a service located within that distance. Yeah, the story in the ER says the grocers will face fines, but they don’t seem to care.  The customers have spoken!

The article goes on to describe the type of activities surrounding these centers – former and current city council members Tom Nickel and Randall Stone said they found three guys taking a bike apart, hack saws (which are considered “burglary tools” by California criminal code) were found hidden in a dumpster nearby, indicating these people are operating a “bike chop shop” right behind not only the grocery store but the post office annex.

Well duh. These problems have been going on for years. When  I tried to take my household recyclables to the center at Mangrove Plaza a good 20 years ago, the person operating the center asked me if I thought it was a good idea to bring my young children back there. I was perturbed that this person felt she was running a service for transients instead of the general public. We’ve trucked our recyclables to the Work Training Center ever since. There we see other housewives, retirees, other citizens like us instead of druggies and creeps.

But we use the post office annex, we shop at Safeway, we ride our bikes down that back alley past the low-income housing project located behind Safeway Plaza. We see garbage, vandalism to the buildings, graffitti, and last year, somebody lit a fire in the dumpster and we found the back of the store had caught fire. At that time it was suspected that transients started the fire because Safeway was taking on a new policy to kick them off the front doors, no more panhandling tolerated. I haven’t heard anything about any further investigation. 

City of Chico has tried to ignore the problems at Mangrove Plaza and other grocers in town, preferring instead to concentrate their efforts on Downtown Chico and One Mile.  I myself have sat in meetings, two feet from former police chief Trostle, telling council committees exactly what I’d  seen down at Mangrove Plaza, and the chief just sat there glaring,  like he want to Feaster me right on the spot. 

Council sat on their thumbs while the post office annex became an overnight homeless shelter, and did nothing when the post office cut annex hours to 7am to 10 pm. That might work for Maureen Kirk, but some people work at night, they like to run their errands at night. And let’s face it – now the transients OWN the post office annex and that entire surrounding area, including private businesses located there, from 10:01 pm to 6:56 am.

So good for Nickel and Stone. But you know what – I don’t believe Safeway acted solely on the directive of the public, or they would have closed that center about 20 years ago. Reading on further in my free online copy of  the Chico ER, I found an explanation that makes more sense.

In a pick-up story from the Monterey County Herald, buried on a back page of the Chico ER, Kathryn McKenzie explains that the closure of recycling centers “around the Central Coast” is being motivated by “historically low levels” of recycled scrap.  Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, said,  ‘The recyclers have seen $50 million in revenue just disappear from the marketplace’ due to low scrap values.'”

Furthermore, “An additional processing payment is also supposed to come from beverage manufacturers, but this isn’t covering recyclers’ costs either. And not only that, because so many people are recycling containers for money, the Container Beverage Recycling Fund has been running at a deficit for the past few years, expected to surpass $74 million this year, according to http://www.resource- recycling.com. “

“…so many people are recycling containers for money…” ?  I heard that complaint from a garbage company spokesman years ago, saying it is not worth the cost of providing household recycling in Chico, because more people in Chico redeem their own recyclables. I know, my family resents paying CRV on our containers, we want that money back. But I don’t think they’re talking about families – they’re obviously talking about the armies of homeless that have taken over those grocery store redemption centers for their own little banks.  

I know, if you pay the CRV, why isn’t there enough money to pay everybody? Because the CRV has been robbed to pay stuff at the state level, the way city of Chico robs various funds to pay salaries, pensions and benefits for an  army of bureaucrats. These two little armies are double-ending our CRV fund, and there’s nothing left for those of us who actually paid the CRV when we bought that container. 

How to solve this problem? Well you can think can’t you? They want to raise the CRV that you pay when you buy beverages.

Meetings in Sacramento are involving not just legislators and policymakers, but also grocers, beverage manufacturers, recyclers and others who have a stake in the issue. The good news is that it appears there will be a fix in the state budget that takes effect July 1 to “compensate recycling centers and open them up,” said Murray. Long- term planning to revamp the container recycling program is also underway.

One of the options is that the CRV might be increased — something that hasn’t happened in the three decades since the program began. “ That’s on the table,” said Murray, who noted that the deposit could go up on glass and plastic containers in particular — glass is a less valuable and bulkier commodity, and plastic is more difficult to recycle.

“I’m a big fan of drinking beer from a glass bottle, but I need to be willing to pay the cost of moving it through the system,” he said. “A higher CRV is the way to do it.”

You realize what this means? The state is about to panhandle you on behalf of their homeless indigent friends. 

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6 Responses to “Safeway closed down recycling centers because of transient problem? Not because the bottom is dropping out of the recycling business?”

  1. Jim February 27, 2016 at 6:29 am #

    For a while in college back in the ’70s I worked at the Coors distributor doing recycling. Coors required all distributors to accept aluminum cans since they needed the aluminum to make new cans. We paid cash. This was before the government required CRV or recycling. Recycling can work with out government interference.

    • Juanita Sumner February 27, 2016 at 7:06 am #

      I remember my mom always took her Pepsi bottles back to the store, handed them right over to the grocery checker, and got so many cents per bottle off her grocery tab.

      Yes, I think the manufacturers and grocers handled recycling just fine – CRV was the state’s way of getting money out of it. They’ve pilfered the fund to pay salaries. Below, the same guy who advocates for a higher CRV, Mark Murray, admits the real problem is the fund raiding.

      from the Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/state-parks-funding/article2575290.html

      But general fund borrowing has exacerbated problems with the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund, said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste.

      When the recycling fund was flush, state officials borrowed three times since 2002, with $173 million still owed. But recycling rates skyrocketed from 58 percent of containers a decade ago to 85 percent in 2010-11, draining funds. The Legislative Analyst’s Office said in April the fund was headed for insolvency by 2014-15 before changes came in June.

      “It’s a little bit of the Wild West out there in terms of borrowing from these special funds,” Murray said. “The Legislature and governor can set their own rules, and sometimes those end up being shortsighted.”

  2. Rob February 29, 2016 at 6:44 am #

    Will they be closing all the Nexcycle outlets? I’ve seen the same homeless related problems out at Raley’s on East Avenue, it’s just not right on the street where passersby can see it.

    • Juanita Sumner February 29, 2016 at 6:55 am #

      Thanks for asking, I had forgotten about that outlet – I saw all kinds of weird behavior there, and heard a report of a stabbing right there in the parking lot between Raley’s and the bowling alley.

      It looks like Nexcycle had three outlets in town and all three are caput.

      http://www.buttecounty.net/recyclebutte/RecyclinginChico.aspx

      I’d say this is good news for the Work Training Center, but I hate to see that business become overrun with the same problems they had in the grocery store parking lots.

      The other problem is where do these bums get their recycling? Out of trash cans left out for early morning pick-up. Part of the city franchise deal should be later morning pick-up, so we don’t have to leave out totes on the street all night. In some neighborhoods it’s a real problem, looks like raccoon have rifled the cans, but it’s bums looking for beer bottles and other valuable recyclables. The trash haulers have complained that this means less revenue for them – they consider it to be theft, and they want an ordinance, but the city has not moved on that. I think it’s theft too – I can’t throw out any sensitive paper work, because I have to worry about creeps going through my trash. I have to burn or shred everything from bank records to junk mail credit card offers, because of this little Army of the Night that seems to be completely off the radar of Chico PD.

  3. Jim February 29, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    I don’t really mind if they just take the cans, the problem is these guys don’t want bottles since they are heavy… so often times the bottles will get thrown around and broken. Since I don’t use enough bottles and cans to bother taking to recycling, I need to hide the bottles under piles of newspaper in the recycling bin on the street.

    • Juanita Sumner March 1, 2016 at 5:55 am #

      I know this is a problem in various neighborhoods around town, but I have yet to catch anybody in my cans or my neighbors’ cans. I might set a camera up sometime.

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