SANTA MARIA, Calif. - RePlanet, California's biggest chain of recycling centers, went out of business earlier this week.
The unexpected announcement has left many of its Central Coast customers wondering what happened and where they will now take their bottles and cans.
"It's very unfortunate because we have to find another place to go to recycle," said Maria Pereyra.
On Thursday, the Santa Maria resident brought two bags of recyclables to the Albertsons's parking lot in Santa Maria.
Instead of cashing in and receiving a few dollars, she found a sign on the side of the building saying rePlanet has closed permanently.
"It's kind of sad," said Pereyra. "I don't know what do do now."
According to a statement on the company's Facebook page, several factors went into the decision to close down.
It said declining commodity prices with aluminum and plastic was a key reason, as was increasing business costs and a reduction in state fees.
"The Company has concluded that operation of these recycling centers and supporting operations is no longer sustainable," the statement read in part.
The decision impacts all 284 locations, which are now closed statewide.
RePlanet operated several Central Coast locations, including two in Santa Maria, with others in Nipomo, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles.
"Disappointed," said Richard Vonachen. "I usually bring a load of plastic bottles down here."
The Orcutt resident brought five large bags of plastic bottles Thursday to the rePlanet location in Santa Maria on South Broadway.
He said he comes to the site a few times a year with bags to cash in.
"I think it's important because it keeps the trash off the roads and out of the streets and it gives some money back," said Vonachen.
All day long, people drove by the same location unaware the business had ceased operations.
Many did not realize there are still recycling options in Santa Maria.
"I guess I could try and find somewhere else," said Vonachen. "I don't know where somewhere is besides the dump itself or the trash."
Other places to go include Waste Management and SA Recycling, both located on Betteravia Road.
The two facilities are unlike rePlanet in that they're large scale recycling centers that accept much more than bottles and cans.
They're also located on the western edge of the city, a little less convenient for some people who used the rePlanet location on South Broadway or the other one across town in the Vons parking lot on Main Street.
With the closure, about 750 employees, including an unknown amount on the Central Coast, are now without a job.
Now that they centers are gone, people in Santa Maria have less places to go to recycle.
However, consumers who still wish to recycle, but may not wish to use the other facilities, can put recyclables into their blue curbside bins.
While residents will not receive any cash for their bottles and cans, it's a better option than throwing them into the trash.
The City wants people to know those recyclable items will go to a recycling center, instead of the landfill.