Californians have enthusiastically embraced recycling, because they know that recycling helps reduce pollution caused by waste, reduces the need for raw materials, preserves natural resources and reduces the energy used to mine and process native ores.
But California, which has always been a national leader in recycling, is already facing a crisis, as hundreds of recycling operations of consumer items (bottles, cans, paper, etc.) have closed down, due in part to the trade wars and foreign countries’ refusal to accept these raw materials, as documented by headlines such as “Is recycling collapsing in California?” “California faces recycling crisis after China tightens rule,” and “California counties ask governor for help with recycling industry crisis.”
Now, state government itself is about to worsen the situation by threatening to put the largest, most successful, and most viable remaining recycling operation out of business by making it uneconomical to recycle scrap metals like junk cars, used refrigerators, and the many other thousands of metal-containing products.
The most obvious and immediate consequence for the typical Californian is that these materials will begin immediately to accumulate in huge quantities, increasing urban blight and creating eyesores, and causing potential threats to health and safety by being abandoned in back alleys, yards, neighborhood streets, vacant lots – and through a geometric increase in “midnight dumping” along roadsides or in empty fields.
This will be a particularly telling problem in low-income and minority neighborhoods, which already endure more than their share of pollution.
If there is no after-market for the recycling of metal consumer products, consumers will also face the inevitable inconvenience of not being able to turn in used appliances or have them picked up by the retailer when they purchase new ones, since most of these items are sold by retailers and merchants to metal recycling facilities.
The millions of tons of metal products California metal recyclers process each year produce metal commodities that are used in new products, thereby contributing to lowering the cost of consumer items using recycled metal.
In addition, the many charitable organizations assisting children, veterans and others in California that rely on charitable donations of cars and other vehicles, even if they are not in running order, will be adversely impacted both economically and practically, because the overwhelming share of the donated vehicles are sold to metal shredder operations to produce revenue.