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CalRecycle Management Paid Bloated Salaries Even as CalRecycle is Dying

More than 50 percent of the recycling centers around the state are closed while taxpayers are paying $1.1 billion in annual beverage container recycling taxes

By Katy Grimes, August 21, 2019 5:34 pm

California Globe has learned that a government agency in California, created to promote and run a public-good program, is paying bloated salaries to its executive staff even as the program hurtles towards extinction.

There are likely many California government agencies paying bloated salaries; CalRecycle is just the most recent example. More than 50 percent of the recycling centers have shut down in recent years even though Californians are still shelling out $1.1 billion in annual beverage container recycling taxes. Tax rates run 5-cents for most glass and plastic bottles and aluminum cans under 24 ounces, 10-cents for 24 ounces and larger.

In theory, the consumer gets the recycle tax refunded when they return the container to a recycling center. First, though, you have to find one. Now, with more than 50 percent of the recycling centers around the state shuttered, finding an open one can be quite a trek. Then you usually have to stand in a lengthy line to complete the transaction.

All that just to recycle a bag of beverage containers and get back the taxes you paid up front.

California Globe recently reported:

Ironically, California’s largest recycling business shut down last week, laid off 750 employees, and closed all 284 of its centers. “RePlanet President David Lawrence said the company stopped operating because of increased business costs and falling prices of recycled aluminum and PET plastic,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “The move comes three years after RePlanet closed 191 of its recycling centers and laid off almost 300 employees.” PET (also abbreviated PETE) is short for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester.

“PET plastic” is a clear, strong, and lightweight plastic that is widely used for packaging foods and beverages, especially convenience-sized soft drinks, juices and water, the PET Resin Association explained. “Virtually all single-serving and 2-liter bottles of carbonated soft drinks and water sold in the U.S. are made from PET.”

Fewer recycling centers equals more inconvenience and less incentive to recycle, which results in even less revenue for running the program.

Additionally, what about people – including those in the homeless community – who depend on the money received from recycling to supplement their income?

Declining revenue issues have not led to any decline in the number of executive staff or their salaries. They continue to oversee – at great expense – a declining, dying program.

According to TransparentCalifornia.com, this is the list of 2018 salaries for CalRecycle executives:

  • Scott Smithline, Director – $174,689 salary, $70,764.66 in benefits, totaling= $240,427.61
  • Ken DaRosa, Chief Deputy Director – $172,861 salary, $68,378.42 in benefits= $235,006.83
  • Elliot Block, Chief Counsel Legal Affairs – $151,082
  • Bryan Ehlers, Asst. Director for Education & Environmental Affairs – $136,400
  • Zoe Heller, Asst. Director for Policy Development – $116,313
  • Mark Oldfield, Asst. Director for Public Affairs – $101,295
  • Mindy McIntyre, Asst. Director for Legislative Affairs – $111,080
  • Josephine Urban, Audits Manager – $114,611
  • Mark de Bie – Deputy Director: Waste Permitting, Compliance & Mitigation – $182,287
  • Sarah Keck – Deputy Director: Administration, Finance & Information Technology Services – $105,177
  • Howard Levenson – Deputy Director: Materials Management & Local Assistance – $175,721
  • Adam Tauber – Deputy Director: Beverage Container Recycling – $155,934

According to the CalRecycle website, CalRecycle has a budget of approximately $1.4 billion, including the $1.1 billion Beverage Container Recycling Fund. Other funding comes from recycling fees on new electronics, tires and used oil, and disposal fees charged by landfills.

Given the problems the state has exhibited running the CalRecycle program, along with the total meltdown of the DMV and the Motor Voter program, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, and every state of California IT project, thinking that California’s politicians are still planning on a single-payer healthcare system leaves most voters cold.

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California's War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?
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11 thoughts on “CalRecycle Management Paid Bloated Salaries Even as CalRecycle is Dying

  1. The eco frauds have extorted billions from the consumer for decades. Did you ever think that your cheese soaked pizza box would be ground up and repurposed as copy paper? Really? Simply another hoax that feeble minded lemmings soak up under the ruse of ‘ecology.’ Stand in line beside your climate change moe Ron’s.

    1. Carlo.
      I’ve been with this program since the beginning and I can bore people to death with all the problems. But you are correct that $ billions have been taken from the CA Public to feed one of CA’s worst run eco-departments. The salaries are one thing but the perks are another. Some travel it will to increase earnings through per diem travel expense. That’s just one of many. So here’s the takeaway! #EcoFraud

    2. Food Contaminated cardboard or other items is not suitable for recycling. It’s clearly marked on our bins with other instructions / guidelines. Put those in the TRASH, not the recycle.

  2. Looks like the program is doing precisely as intended — enriching the few at the expense of the many.

    What is surprising about that ? a new homeless housing and services industry is about to do the same
    thing… What act surprised or shocked ? That’s how things work in LA.

  3. Recycling Investors Beware!
    CalRecycle’s success rate in denying the public convenient locations to re-collect deposits made into the program are met with equal if not greater denials to Recyclers ability to collect funds owed to them through this program through systematic robbing of business owners capital investments and private property followed by abusive enforcement through “informal hearings” where Deparment staff are the Judge, the Jury, and the Exucutioner. CalRecycle lawyers have managed to keep their legal costs down by creating a system of swift and cheap injustice where they are committed to the denial of due process to Recyclers, its owners, and the investing public.
    Its truly sad that our state has allowed the standards of Justice to be altered from ,”beyond a reasonable doubt,” to “the preponderance of evidence,” where unqualified CalRecycle staff are the Judge, the Jury, and the Exucutioner, by enforcing underground regulations that are not found in law. When CA State Office Of Administrative Law communicated to CalRecycle to refrain from such enforcement what does CalRecycle do?…. they proceed as though they are above the law.
    The CalRecycle pre-certification Education and training division compounds the problems by falsely educating current and New potential Recyclers of the programs rules and regs as well. Last training I went to they started the meeting with, ” your jobs are to protect the fund.” After reading this article they might as well have said, “your jobs are to protect our over bloated paychecks.”
    Could they care any less about recycling?

  4. I have an idea. Fill all those CalTrans forgotten pot holes with PET plastic bottles. WTHell, we have already paid taxes on both. Now we serfs should be good comrades and do the labor too. Do it for Pelosi’s children.

  5. VC Venture Capital and CA Regulation
    In general, any business that comes under CA state regulation is a very risky investment. The worst 2 agencies to be regulated by would be CalRecycle (DRRR) and then the DTSC (Department of Toxic Substance Control). Both of them have penalty systems that can easily assess fines and penalties in excess of the net worth of the company’s.

    CalRecycle is the worst because in a number of programs they control cash flow through the use of an adjudication system which they control. There is no transparency leading to interpretations that contradict the rule of law. That throws you into a system that denies due process. Over 5 years ago CalRecycle was told by the CA State Auditor that their system of denying claims was based on underground regulation (it’s illegal). In January the Auditor reminded them because they were still doing it.
    Case study: An investment group led by a Harvard MBA created a business to fulfill the state mandate of mattress recycling. In my opinion, they did an excellent job of setting up the business. They built three plants in the right locations for logistics efficiency. They had excellent equipment and did a masterful job of marketing to generate supply. Today there out of business and in court attempting to get over $2 million in receivables. In August 2018 the CA Auditor reported that CalRecycle had failed to do its job of overseeing the program.
    Investment is not respected in California’s crony capitalism businesses.

  6. Only in the state of CA is such a program as CRV run. Some crafty lawyers must have come up with this scam. First, they charge the bottlers/canners of beverages the CRV amount, which then can “choose” to pay or pass on to their customers (gee, what do you think they’ll do?). Then, when you buy the (for this purpose, let’s call it Coke) Coke you pay the “CRV” that you supposedly get reimbursed for when taking the can in for recycling. Oh, don’t forget, they also tax the CRV as well – so a 12 pack of Coke which you pay $0.60 CRV on is taxed at your local tax rate (here, locally it’s 7.75%) – so that’s another $0.465 (5 cents) tax on every pack, as well as the tax on the drink itself, which you will never get back under any circumstances.

    I have an example in front of me right now. I bought 5 12 packs of Coke on sale at Albertson’s recently. I paid $12.36 for the actual product, a CRV of $3.00, and a tax of $1.19. So yes, whether you realized it or not, they are taxing the tax! The same thing happens with gasoline, but that’s a topic for another discussion. Back to my example: another part of the CRV scam is selling by piece ($0.05 to $0.10 per container) then buying back based on weight instead of what you actually paid. The only way to avoid this was to use a RVM (Reverse Vending Machine) which only seemed to be used by RePlanet (now out of business according to the article). Everywhere else, it’s by weight only. Anyone that buys water in those paper thin plastic bottles is getting killed on the CRV upon return by weight!

    I have read in the past that one reason why RePlanet was doing so poorly is due to CalRecycle not paying them on time for product recycling, they couldn’t afford to keep the doors open when they aren’t compensated for their work. No wonder they’re shutting down! The entire thing was a scam to start with, since the state is more than happy to take your money, but make it nearly impossible to get the money back. California is the only state with a system like this – everywhere else, it’s called a “deposit” for a reason – you can actually get your money back! Meanwhile, the state gets richer and richer, just pockets the money while most people just throw away the empty containers out of sheer frustration. What a perfect scam!!

    1. They do the same with lumber, Ca Lumber fee and it’s also taxed. What a scam. The ppl that vote for these Deb Pols are idiots.

  7. tHE cA. rECYCLE PROGRAM IS SO POORLY RAN THAT THE OVER HEAD TO RUN THE PROGRAM IS way out of hand. Then the program cheats the hard working recycle centers to the point they are closing up everyday and the CRV program is trying to blame China for their problems. This is not so it is from the poor management that runs the program.
    I know of many cases where they have cheated their recycle centers out of their money.
    We need to start the program over from the start and cut the fat starting at the top.

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