Citing increased operational costs, decreasing profits and declining support from CalRecycle, Larrabee Recycling Center will close Dec. 30 after serving the Santa Maria Valley for more than 45 years. As a result, Santa Maria will be left with just three small recycling buy-back centers.
“We are saddened to see this chapter end for our employees, customers and community,” said co-owner Shannon Larrabee. “We are in a business that provides a community service, but as a family owned business, we cannot continue to provide this service if it is no longer profitable.”
Larrabee opened for business in 1970. The same year Coors Brewing Co. began its “Cash for Cans” program, enlisting 116 distributors to open recycling centers at distributor locations and paying customers one cent per can. While the program was successful – the recycling rate eventually reached 107 percent – Coors discontinued the Cash for Cans program in the early 1990s.
In 2013, despite record low scrap rates for aluminum, glass and PET for the industry, Larrabee Recycling was named Small Business of the Year for the 33rd Assembly District. As scrap values declined in California, however, recycling centers began to close. This month, CalRecycle, which brings together the state’s recycling and waste management programs, announced proportional reductions in payments of programs and processing fees, putting further stress on recycling centers.
“We are essentially in partnership with CalRecycle, and they have not been very good partners,” Larrabee said. “Combined with decreased scrap values, that has made it unwise to continue the recycling center.”
Larrabee Recycling hopes to absorb some of its five full-time employees into Central Coast Distributing, the Larrabees’ beer distribution company. Job assignments for the recycling center’s four temporary employees will end Dec. 30.
Larrabee’s closure will create a recycling void in Santa Maria, possibly contributing to litter and depriving residents who made money recycling with a revenue source. In 2016, more than 60,000 customers brought in 34 million beverage containers, paying out $1.7 million in CRV.
“The bottom line is that we were in the business of reclaiming potentially valuable materials from the waste stream while providing some of our community’s non-profits and poorest citizens with a legitimate source of income,” Larrabee said. “We hope the city comes up with a solution to provide another option to serve the residents who wish to redeem their recycled beverage containers and collect their CRV.”
815 South Blosser Road
Santa Maria, CA 93458