In order to stay open, Ottumwa's Tenco redemption facility has been forced to cut their hours nearly in half.
It's been an unpopular move within the community, but was a necessary one. According to Tenco's executive director, Ben Wright, Tenco was receiving around 100,000 cans per day and the facility only has the ability to process between 40,000 and 50,000.
That means the center was paying out the money for those cans, but not processing them, therefore operating at a loss. Scaling back the hours was the only way to keep the facility open, though its created problems for its customers.
"What that's obviously done is created lines for people to bring cans in," Wright said. "We feel terrible about it, we wish there were other options for people to bring their cans to, but there really isn't and that is the essential problem - that because there is only a penny redemption per can, other places have closed. So we have people bringing cans from 40 miles away, they'll come in with a truckload of cans and we can only take 500 cans and then they get sent away. And again, we feel bad that we have to do that, but doing this allows us to stay open."
Wright said Tenco has appealed to local legislators to lobby raising the redemption from one cent to two cents. That small increase would create competition and solve the backlog problems Ottumwa's facility has been unable to handle. Wright also encourages anyone frustrated by the changes to write to their legislators as well.
If you want to help, you can also donate small amounts of cans to the drop box outside the Ottumwa and Fairfield facilities. The money from those donations goes right back to Tenco, whose goal is to employ members of the community living with disabilities.
Tenco is now open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.