FORT BRAGG, CA, 3/16/23 — Redwood Waste Solutions (RWS), the company now under contract to manage waste and recycling in the city of Fort Bragg and much of Mendocino County, has good news for Fort Bragg residents with nowhere to recycle following the closure of the Pudding Creek Road Disposal & Buy Back Center. RWS announced in a news release that by Apr. 8, CalRecycle would either accept or reject its application to participate in a California Redemption Value (CRV) Pilot Project that would allow RWS to operate a mobile buyback center at “multiple locations along the coast.”
“Local jurisdictions can apply now to turn their recycling deserts into hubs for convenient bottle and can redemption with California’s Beverage Container Recycling Pilot Project Program,” CalRecycle advertises on its website. Culver City, Irvine, San Francisco, and other locations have implemented recycling pilot projects through the program.
Fort Bragg’s program details will be forthcoming, should its mobile buyback center be approved. Upon approval, RWS expects the mobile buyback center to be up and running within 30 days.
But RWS is also seeking a more permanent solution to Fort Bragg’s current recycling limbo. According to the Wednesday news release, staff have explored 20 potential locations since summer — a necessary step in part because Waste Management, Fort Bragg’s former hauler, refused to sell the Pudding Creek transfer station “in hopes of returning to serve the community,” according to a spokesperson.
“RWS understands that it is our contractual obligation to open a redemption center to support the coastal residents and businesses,” the new hauler wrote. “We have taken this responsibility seriously.”
The company is now working with a private property owner to lease a parcel for a permanent facility, writing that “the property owner has been very collaborative on this effort.” Once this deal is finalized, RWS will need to apply for a Coastal Development Permit from the California Coastal Commission. It’s “not a quick fix,” RWS acknowledged, but the hauler hopes to “be part of the solution.”
A cursory search of CalRecycle’s online map shows that no buyback centers are available along Mendocino County’s coast at all, with Willits providing Fort Bragg’s nearest option. California law requires that a supermarket or large retailer that sells CRV-redeemable products must adhere to a convenience zone — meaning that retailers must accept those products back unless there is a recycling center within a half-to-three mile radius. If stores do not redeem CRV products, following a grace period, the “affected dealer may pay $100 per day to [CalRecycle] in lieu of accepting the responsibility of redeeming containers in-store.”
RWS said several retailers are imminently facing this fee because of the lack of a redemption center in Fort Bragg, which has also motivated the company to find other solutions.
Note: Kate Fishman covers the environment & natural resources for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report For America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Fishman’s work with a tax-deductible donation here or by emailing [email protected]. Contact her at KFishman@mendovoice.com or at (707) 234-7735. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.