Scott Smithline, CalRecycle’s Director, announces that he’ll leave his post with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery at the end of December. CalRecycle is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency. CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld said he was grateful for Smithline’s “strong leadership,” praising him for helping wildfire survivors recover and for advancing “vital climate and recycling policy.”
“While we are sad that he is leaving, we understand his decision to focus more on his family,” Blumenfeld said.
The news comes as CalRecycle has been criticized by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog for its response to the state’s recycling troubles. California is one of 10 states that has a deposit-refund system for beverage containers. People pay an extra 5 cents for bottles up to 24 ounces and 10 cents for bottles more than 24 ounces. They can get that money back if they recycle the bottle or can once they are finished with it.
But it’s becoming harder to find a place to recycle in California. The value of scrap metal and aluminum has fallen while other countries, particularly China, have become more selective in the types of waste they will purchase from the U.S.
That’s made it tougher for recycling centers, which are not owned or operated by the state, to stay open. About half of the state’s recycling centers have closed in the past six years, according to Consumer Watchdog. The biggest blow came in August when RePlanet, the state’s largest operator of recycling centers, closed all 284 of its locations and laid off 750 workers.