Los Angeles, CA—Consumer Watchdog welcomed the resignation today of the CalRecycle Director as a first step in overhauling the troubled agency in charge of the state’s failing bottle deposit system. CAL-EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld confirmed the resignation to Consumer Watchdog this afternoon.
“The resignation of Scott Smithline opens the door to remaking the state’s bottle deposit system to ensure that consumers have convenient access to redemption of their empty bottles and cans,” said Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker. “When half of the redemption centers in the state have closed over the last six years, it’s time for new leadership and a new director who recognizes the emergency for what it is."
In August, the largest chain of redemption centers in the state, rePlanet, closed its doors, cutting hundreds of centers out of the system. Consumer Watchdog wrote a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom calling for new leadership. “The leadership of CalRecycle needs to change its attitude and treat this crisis as a crisis or it needs to be replaced. We suggest an immediate job review for the director of CalRecycle and possible replacement depending upon on its findings,” Consumer Watchdog wrote.
Smithline had served as director since 2015 and prior to that had held the job of assistant director for policy development starting in 2011.
“California’s landmark Bottle Deposit law of 1986 is broken and CalRecycle is busy catering to the concerns of various special interest groups that have left the program in gridlock,” the August letter stated. “Grocers, beverage companies, and waste haulers have shirked obligations, both legal and financial, with impunity. Recycling centers are failing and CalRecycle is not helping them survive. It’s time for a new day for recycling in California.”