Friday, Jan. 6, was the last day of operation for the beverage container buy-back center previously operated in Tehachapi by WM — the company also known as Waste Management, Inc.
Located at 416 N. Dennison Road, the recycling center also will no longer collect materials from the public, including cans, bottles and cardboard. The facility will no longer accept inert materials and construction and demolition debris for processing.
Spokesperson Ashley Cortes said that over the past year the center had seen a decline in public usage. She said other company operations at the Dennison Road facility, including a propane filling system and local customer service center, will continue.
For beverage container redemption, Cortes suggested the public use the FIELD Recycle center at 355 Enterprise Way, Suite D, to redeem bottles and cans. Cardboard, newsprint, magazines and construction and demolition debris can be taken to the diversion area of the Tehachapi Landfill located at 12001 E. Tehachapi Blvd.
“These decisions were not easy to make, and we held off on them as long as we were able,” Cortes said. “We hope the community continues to recycle using the alternative drop-off locations as well as their curbside recycling carts.”
WM contracts for residential trash hauling within the city of Tehachapi and provides carts for recyclables with weekly pickup.
Assistant City Manager Corey Costelloe said the city was advised of WM’s plans to discontinue the public recycling center, although it happened more quickly than anticipated.
WM took over the buy-back center and other recycling operations at the Dennison Road site when it acquired Benz Sanitation in 2017. Costelloe said the operation was a private enterprise not required by the city’s contract with WM.
“The MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) is used and will continue to be used predominantly as a separation/transfer facility for mixed waste/recyclables collected at businesses (dumpsters),” Costelloe said, adding that this is a requirement of California recycling laws.
“When it was first built, the MRF had the capacity of 850 tons per day,” Costelloe added, “but according to data WM provided to CalRecycle, it accepted just 450 tons last October.”
He noted that new laws since the facility was built by Benz have changed the types of materials that can be processed at the MRF.
“Also, given the current tough recycling/reuse market, many of those materials just sat at the WM yard creating an eyesore,” he said. “Limiting what materials come in will assist in cleaning up that site and allowing WM to focus on business recycling at that facility.”
Currently, Costelloe said, such recycling is still allowable at the MRF, but “that could change, too, should the state require source-separation of business trash/recycling, which we anticipate they will within the next few years.”
As to buy-back of the beverage containers for which consumers pay the state of California 5 to 10 cents, depending on the size, in theory these cans and bottles can be redeemed for cash. But in reality, the cost of labor and overhead has made it difficult for such centers to stay in business.
“The state of California and other market factors have made the recycling market impossible as a profitable business, that is the reason why all the RePlanet facilities, like the one that used to be at Albertsons, closed,” Costelloe said. “In short, the California recycling system is broken and buy-back redemption centers are no longer profitable for many organizations. While we understand their value to some residents, we cannot expect any company to subsidize operations. We encourage residents in the city of Tehachapi to utilize their curbside recycling containers to continue to recycle their products.”
According to CalRecycle, with the closure of the Dennison Road facility, there is only one buy-back center remaining in Tehachapi.
Hours for the FIELD recycling center on Enterprise Way are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The center is closed daily from noon to 12:30 p.m. for lunch. The phone number for the center is 661-527-6005.
Kern County’s landfill, located on East Tehachapi Boulevard, has a diversion area where individuals can take a variety of items for recycling — although there currently is no drop-off area for aluminum cans.
When visiting the landfill you will be asked if you are a resident of the city or unincorporated Kern County and what type of material you are discarding. The recycling area is up the hill from the check-in station — away from the area where general household refuse is discarded — and areas are clearly marked for individuals to off-load bottles, cardboard, newsprint and other recyclable materials.
Operated by Kern County Public Works, the diversion area is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Sundays. The site is closed on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
More information about the landfill is available online at bit.ly/3XgTQwF.
Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: email@example.com.