After a lengthy permitting process, Hambro Recycling finally opened in Arcata on April 1. Humboldt County now has a CRV buy-back center two years after the Eureka Recycling Center’s CRV services were discontinued for safety amid an overload of residents wanting their CRV deposits back.
"The process (of opening Hambro Recycling in Arcata) was long and hard," Randy Scott, general manager and vice president of Hambro Recycling, told the Journal. "It was more than we thought it would be and that's kind of led to those premature press releases because we really thought this is going to go pretty fast. ... We know that the city of Arcata and the Coastal Commission were just doing what they needed to do. We appreciate their partnership in this. The important thing now is that we're past that now and open."
Residents wanting their 5 to 10 cent deposits from purchasing plastic and glass bottled drinks had needed to travel almost two hours north to Crescent City or had to forfeit their deposits and throw their CRV recyclers in their curbside bin. But now that the Arcata location is open, they'll be able to recycle closer to home.
And it seems like many Humboldt County residents decided to keep their CRV recyclables until a local buyback center opened.
"It's very evident that people are bringing a backlog of (CRV) recycling. It's been over two years since there was a buyback [in Humboldt]," Scott said. "We're seeing a lot of inventory of CRV. We're seeing new faces every day, so more and more people are getting an opportunity to recycle. We have no idea when we'll be caught up, so to speak."
The CRV recycling center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but in a Facebook post on Wednesday, showing the massive lines of cars waiting to unload their CRV recyling, Hambro Recycling said it would close the gates around 3 to 4 p.m. to allow staff to serve the recyclers in line.
“As the high volume starts to subside, we will leave the gate open longer. Thank you again for your cooperation as we work through a two-year backlog of CRV recyclables. Hambro Recycling Staff is here to help you with your CRV recycling,” the post states.
Scott said that closing the gates by 3:30 p.m. is a temporary adjustment.
"When we get past this tsunami of recycling that will go away," he said.
Scott's initial fear about opening Hambro Arcata was plugging up South G Street in the same way Broadway was hit back in September 2020 when Eureka Recycling Center reopened its CRV buyback service for a brief time but so far that hasn't been the case.
During yesterday’s Humboldt Waste Management Authority’s board meeting, staff presented two options for once again resuming CRV services at the Eureka Recycling Center.
One option was to restart CRV services at the Eureka Recycling Center but discontinue accepting source-separated materials like cardboard, separated plastic and electronic waste — which would limit the number of places where Humboldt County residents could take those recyclables. The second option was to establish a separate CRV location but Eric Keller-Heckman, HWMA director of operations, said there are very few locations in the county big enough for processing CRV materials.
In the end, each option would take months and be costly. For years, CRV recycling hasn’t been favorable on the North Coast due to high transportation and processing costs and low commodity values.
Ultimately, the board decided not to pursue either because they wanted to “wait and see” how Hambro Recycling Arcata was doing and asked staff to invite Hambro to its next meeting in May.
Scott said their CEO David Slagle is in communication with HWMA.
People looking to finally recycle their CRV containers can head to Hambro Recycling at 420 South G St. in Arcata. It's open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but will be limiting entry by 3:30 p.m.