Reynolds Recycling to reopen HI-5 redemption centers, bigger problems loom

All 35 Reynold’s Recycling redemption centers will reopen Friday after shutting down for one day over a reimbursement spat with the state.

The state owed the company more than a million dollars for containers collected for the month.

Reynolds is the largest recycler of beverage containers in the state and has been in business in Hawaii for more than 30 years.

But on Thursday, a husband and wife who drove from Ewa Beach to Waipahu to recycle their beverage containers were forced to drive back with the same two bags and no money for their trouble.

Despite the redemption centers shutdown, there was still work to do at the Reynolds processing center at Sand Island.

The company says it supports the HI-5 program, even though it is owed money from the state to cover the cost of the payments made to those who recycled their cans and bottles for the month of June and for the handling fees the company also had to pay out of its own pocket.

Marketing and development director Bruce Iverson said the problem isn’t about fronting the money. “It’s when payments take a bit longer than we are expecting then it becomes a fiduciary issue that you can only stretch your budget so far,” he said.

recycling payment graphic

This is how the HI-5 works: You come to a redemption center like Reynolds, and in exchange for each can and bottle, you get a nickel from the company. The company then waits for reimbursement from the state.

For Reynolds, that reimbursement is supposed to come about 10 days after it submits its report. But for other companies, it can take longer — up to 30 days.

In a statement from RRR Recycling, the company said that when it comes to timely reimbursements from the state, “we have met the same challenges several times since the inception of the Bottle Bill program.”

RRR also says it wants the state to reimburse recyclers the nickels they are owed in seven to 10 days.

Another recycler, Island Recycling, says it has no problem with the state. In fact, Island Recycling said that problems in the past have been from “mistakes that our people have made on the billings, which the state caught and remedied.”

“Hopefully, the state will clear up the books so to speak,” said Iverson. “Right now, we have a lot of things that need to be cleared up.”

The chair of the state House committee that oversees recycling also wants the reimbursement issue cleared up.

“We need to make sure the state deals with any technical issues. That’s critical,” said Rep. Chris Lee. “If this is a chronic problem, we need to look at it.”

Unfortunately, KHON2 was denied an on-camera interview with state Deputy Health Director Gary Gill.

Instead, the department released a statement early Thursday evening which said, in part, that a check was cut to Reynolds for $707,000 for invoices presented to the department on June 10 and June 17. The partial payment, which Reynolds said was received at about 3 p.m. Thursday, was enough for the company to reopen its 35 redemption centers on Friday morning.

The following is the entire statement from Gary Gill, DOH Deputy Director of Environmental Health:

“The Department of Health regrets that Reynolds Recycling has decided to temporarily close their recycling operations. For many years Reynolds has been a leader in our State’s efforts to recycle glass, metal and plastics. The department reimburses recyclers for the thousands of dollars worth of 5-cent deposits that they return to consumers when HI-5 containers are redeemed. Our payment to recyclers is usually made within 10 days of receiving a proper claim. This month, the payment to Reynolds was delayed by a few days. We expect to make the payment by the end of this week, still well within the 30-day payment schedule provided by law.

Today, Reynolds received a check for more than $707,000 for invoices presented to the Department of Health on June 10 and June 17th. This payment was made 16 days after receipt of some of these invoices and 9 days after receipt of others. While this payment took a few days longer than usual, it concerns us that such a minor delay would lead to the closure of a statewide recycling operation.

DOH is committed to working closely with all the recyclers in the state to assure that consumers are provided convenient and efficient services that help reduce the necessity of landfills in Hawaii.”

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