New business Basik Recycling serves growing number of recyclers seven days a week
Even though his extended family has been in the recycling business in Southern California for 35 years, Dylan McFann had no plan to run his own recycling company—until recently. Three months ago, the 24-year-old Chico State business graduate started up Chico’s newest recycling outfit, Basik Recycling, located in south Chico in the Park Avenue building formerly occupied by Westgate Hardwoods.
“I really like the recycling business,” the friendly, cheerful McFann asserted recently while at the wheel of a huge diesel, flat-bed pickup on his way to nearby Richvale to pick up a 14,000-pound load of recycled cardboard from rice producer Lundberg Family Farms. “And I always wanted to be a business owner.”
After graduating from college in 2009, McFann—a former rodeo rider who grew up in Red Bluff with his parents and a sister—put his business degree to use as a property/casualty-insurance salesperson for a firm in Southern California.
“I thought I had to move to the big city,” said McFann. But corporate life, it turned out, didn’t suit him, and he moved back to the Chico area last fall.
He learned the ropes of recycling by working alongside his cousin in the family business down south in between leaving his corporate job and starting up Basik.
“I’m down-home—more of a country kid,” offered McFann. “I didn’t want to wear a suit and tie the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be in the insurance business any more.
“I went from suit-and-tie to jeans, boots and a ball cap,” he added with a smile.
McFann’s new business has opened at a time when recycling services are in growing demand, partly due to an increasing awareness of the need to recycle, and partly due to the dismal state of the American economy. According to latest figures released recently in a joint press release from the Aluminum Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans in the United States is the highest it’s been in 11 years.
This data matches what McFann says he sees on a daily basis. McFann’s steady stream of customers includes “everyone—from your moms, your kids, your normal families, to the homeless and the elderly and young families. I’m seeing younger kids in here, too—my age—recycling for their beer money. You know, college students.”
“Canners”—those who collect aluminum cans in large quantities—come in all shapes and sizes, said McFann. They are not limited to the stereotypical homeless person pulling a ramshackle wooden trailer behind a bicycle, loaded with black plastic trash bags bursting at the seams with cans—although there are plenty of those, especially after a good weekend of student parties. On a Sunday morning, said McFann, the line of bicycles and walk-ins loaded down with cans and other recyclables usually stretches all the way from the check-in area at the back of the Basik building, down a long driveway and past the front gate.
McFann has noticed a “big increase” in volume of recycled cans and bottles since Chico State started back up for the fall semester.
“I see ’em every day,” he said of the many canners who do business with Basik. Some of them, he said, “either they have a job or they had a good job and they lost it. One guy told me he used to be an accountant. It’s crazy.” Canners either “do it to subsidize or to survive,” McFann summed up. “And then there’s the average family that does it because they think it’s a good thing.”
One woman, who comes to Basik seven days a week on her bike, makes approximately $60 a day cashing in cans.
McFann spoke fondly of a couple who had fallen on hard times: “The lady always tried to smell good. She was the friendliest lady, always spoke really well.”
McFann said that, despite the uptick in can recycling, he hears complaints from canners that the work is more difficult—more competitive—as there are so many canners these days.
“It’s a little more saturated,” he said. “That’s what I hear from some of my regular customers.”
Besides aluminum cans, Basik recycles cardboard; newspapers; various office-type papers; phone books; shrink-wrap plastic; CRV (California redemption value) drink containers made of glass, plastic and bi-metal (such as Sapporo or Foster’s beer cans), as well as used ballasts and a number of metal castoffs, including copper wire.
Wire, it turns out, is another hot item in the recycling world these days. Unstripped of its plastic coating, wire fetches from 85 cents to $1.75 per pound; bare copper wire brings the seller about $3 a pound. Compare this to the going rate for cans—approximately $1.60 per pound—and one can understand why McFann has to be on the lookout for suspiciously large amounts of copper wire coming in for recycling, as it may be stolen. People regularly steal wire, he said—including extension cords, which they strip down to the bare wire; McFann noted a recent rash of wire thefts from the new addition to Butte College under construction at Notre Dame Boulevard and the Skyway.
“It is my due diligence to get their I.D.,” McFann said, “and anything over $20 worth, we put a three-day hold on [paying them]. If things look suspicious, they probably are.”
Soon, McFann said, Basik will have the necessary permits to accept e-waste and batteries.
“I enjoy what I do,” said McFann, who has added five employees to the one he had when he first opened. “It’s not the prettiest business, but recycling is a good business.”
Besides, he added, “I love Chico. When I went to school here, I didn’t really want to leave.”