post on this subject I described aspects of the changeover here in recycling systems in terms of a philosophical change: from "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" to "If in doubt/Throw it out." But there's a little more to the local story.
The previous system I described--hauling our recycling to the Arcata Community Recycling Center at our own discretion--was otherwise without cost to us. ACRC was a nonprofit enterprise. Eventually they charged for certain kinds of electronic recycling, but they also paid cash for certain items. Basically however, the price was in the effort to get it there, which wasn't much effort, and was often enjoyable.
Now our recycling is picked up weekly, and we pay for that service. It is mandated by city government--a weekly recycling charge no matter what. Part of a dubious trend of government forcing you to pay money to a profit-making business. You can have less than fits into the bins but not more. This requires tearing cardboard into strips rather than simply flattened boxes. So there's still work we do, but we also pay. Arcata Garbage is a profit-making company.
Last week saw the official end of Arcata Community Recycling Center as an entity. After they closed the local center shortly after Arcata Garbage started curbside, they maintain a sorting center nearby, and continued to bid for recycling from local communities. After allegedly tricking them into revealing details of their operation, another profit-making company underbid them for a big contract. They sued, and last week, facing more attorney fees and legal costs, they settled out of court for a piddling amount, and announced they were folding.
There is still some community-based nonprofit reycling going on--ACRC cites Zero Waste Humboldt as one. Still, ACRC's demise seals the end of that era, with the reminder that we're paying for it--Arcata Garbage makes money not only on recycling but from us. And lessens our involvement in the process, as well as personally my confidence that much of this stuff is actually being recycled.
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