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United Metal Recyclers of California warn that proposed actions will destroy State’s metal recycling program

Department of Toxic Substances Control to arbitrarily change the definition of what metals are toxic

"DTSC is proposing to arbitrarily change the definition of what metal is toxic," Riesgo said. "It is shameful and the reason why our coalition is growing so fast."
"DTSC is proposing to arbitrarily change the definition of what metal is toxic," Riesgo said. "It is shameful and the reason why our coalition is growing so fast."

According to the United Metal Recyclers of California (UMRC), a newly proposed agency action targeting metal shredders and recyclers would eliminate California's thriving scrap metal operations and force tons of metal into state landfills.

"Metal shredding is one of the last successful areas of recycling in the state," said Raul Riesgo, a spokesman for the organization. "Unlike the fiasco we're seeing with the mass closure of beverage container recycling centers, metal shredders are successfully employing thousands of people, keeping millions of cars and appliances out of neighborhoods and landfills, conserving natural resources and creating value for metal shipped to worldwide for manufacturing."

But this proposal from the Department of Toxic Substances Control would grind this industry to halt and result in multiple unintended consequences, he said.

"DTSC is proposing to arbitrarily change the definition of what metal is toxic," Riesgo said. "It is shameful and the reason why our coalition is growing so fast."

Currently, DTSC only regulates the waste left over and considered toxic after the comprehensive metal shredding process is completed. But without any scientific or other justification, DTSC is planning to regulate every phase of the shredding process by redefining what is considered hazardous waste - and charging a fee at every phase of the process.

"Every phase of our operations is already heavily regulated by numerous local, state and regional agencies," said Riesgo. "Nothing is broken. Nothing needs fixing except DTSC's power and money grab."

Metal recycling is an essential industry that keeps mountains of metal off our streets and out of our landfills, while providing thousands of jobs - including union plant workers and union longshoremen and thousands of small minority businesses built around collecting scrap metal.

Without the metal recycling industry, scrap metal, end of life vehicles and end of life appliances would accumulate in streets, vacant lots and back yards. Metal recyclers provide a safe and effective way to recycle these items into new products.

The UMRC notes the many benefits of metal recycling in the state: 

  • Over a million cars and over a million appliances are recycled annually in California
  • Metal recycling in California contributes an estimated $11 billion to the local economy and over 53,886 jobs
  • Recycled metal is the 4nd most exported product from the Port of Los Angeles. Over 2 million metric tons of recycled metal was exported through the Port of LA in 2018
  • Tens of thousands of small businesses that collect metal in all 58 California counties.