The Arcata Community Recycling Center is Dead

Hank Sims / Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 @ 1:43 p.m. / News

UPDATE, 2:10 p.m.: For newcomers to the story: The closure of the Arcata Community Recycling Center is the culmination of a couple of things.

One: The center borrowed a bunch of money on very bad terms right before the great real estate crash to build its new processing facility on the Samoa Peninsula — a financial misstep from which it never quite recovered.

Two: The Humboldt Waste Management Authority then moved to award a contract for the processing of the county’s recyclabes to a Willits company, rather than the ACRC. Willits Solid Waste had dramatically underbid the ACRC, offering to pay the waste management authority for the same recyclables that the ACRC wanted to charge big money for taking.

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UPDATE, 1:54 p.m.: We have confirmed that this is, in fact, an official press release.

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We’ve not yet officially received the following press release, and we have a call in to ACRC’s executive director, but since the following document is receiving wide circulation, and since it squares with what we’ve been hearing in the last couple of days, we’re going to call it.

End of an era. Press release follows.

The Arcata Community Recycling Center’s (ACRC) Board of Directors has voted to cease all operations by January 14, 2012. Facility closures include Arcata Community Recycling Center’s Reusables Depot located at 1380 9th Street in Arcata; the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) located at 1445 10th Street in Arcata; and the organization’s Processing Facility located at 555 Vance Avenue in Samoa. Additionally, ACRC’s Commercial collection program servicing 200 area businesses and ACRC’s Education Program that presented educational programs to over 4,000 students and residents annually will come to an end. All thirty-five employees of the organization will be laid off.

The ACRC Board thanks the residents of Humboldt County for their 40 years of support. The organization was an outgrowth of the first Earth Day in 1970 and formed in 1971 to promote economically beneficial alternatives to disposal of materials that could be recycled. In the four decades that have followed, ACRC has been an international model for community-driven waste diversion efforts. Legislative support for these efforts was not apparent until 1989 when the State of California mandated that municipalities divert at least 50% of waste generated from landfills. Recently that mandate was increased to 75%.

“ACRC developed programs and constructed facilities that enabled Humboldt County municipalities to meet state mandated diversion goals” according to Milt Boyd, Chairman of ACRC’s Board of Directors. Boyd concluded “Development of ACRC facilities allowed Arcata and Eureka to begin curbside programs and enabled the Humboldt Waste Management Authority (HWMA) to bid the activity, ultimately resulting in a decision by local elected officials to ship recyclables out of county for processing.” The HWMA issued a Request-for-Proposals (RFP) for processing of recyclables handled by ACRC. This occurred following two failed votes to acquire ACRC facilities. ACRC had resisted the attempted acquisition. The diversion of recyclables from ACRC’s processing system by HWMA leaves the organization unable to continue to financially support the organization’s activities.

The ACRC Board of Directors continues to encourage residents to be involved in their municipality’s discussions on the handling of recyclables. Recyclables are the one part of the waste stream that generates revenues and this is money that can support local jobs and help reduce overall garbage service costs. Exporting the material, as is now being done, results in loss of local jobs and hurts the Humboldt County economy. The HWMA will receive approximately $50,000 per year for the recyclables currently shipped out of County. The County’s economy will lose $1.5 million dollars in annual payrolls and experience an additional $2.5 million loss in economic activity involving many local businesses in exchange.

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