Midcoast residents who use Clynk to redeem bottles and cans have likely noticed a back-up in the system, particularly at the Rockland location where customers have been leaving bags in piles outside the trailer.

Dan Kiley, director of brand delivery at Clynk in South Portland, said this is a problem around the state. Kiley said the company is aware of the problem and are doing their best to address it. “What we are asking is a little bit of patience from customers and understanding,” Kiley said. “We have every available truck and driver out.”

What is causing this issue? Kiley said it is a combination of factors, including increased tourist traffic, fewer independent redemption centers and the ongoing worker shortage.

While Clynk knew this summer would be busy, the increase in business has been significantly more than expected. Kiley said the company anticipated an increase of 10% to 15% in returns, but instead are seeing a 20% to 30% increase. More tourists are traveling to Maine from other states this summer, and this is also the first summer in the last few years Maine has had Canadian visitors.

There are also fewer independent redemption centers in the state, Kiley said. In the last year about 50 smaller local redemption centers around the state have closed as rising costs and inflation make it challenging for these places to make a profit. This leaves Clynk as the primary redemption option for many locations in Maine.

The ongoing worker shortage has also affected Clynk. “COVID messed things up for everybody,” Kiley said. “The effects of that are still being felt.” Clynk has fewer employees, and so do other companies they rely on. This creates a ripple effect.

“If we have a truck that breaks down, it takes longer to get that repaired,” Kiley said. “They are down mechanics and cannot turn around repairs as quickly.”

Kiley said Clynk expects the next two weeks into Labor Day to continue to be busy, but they hope business will start to normalize again into September.

There are some steps Clynk customers can take in the meantime, however. The company is asking customers to limit their drops to no more than three bags, and not add their bags to piles outside Clynk trailers. Instead, they are asking customers to wait until there is room to put their bags safely inside the trailers.

“It is a health and safety issue,” Kiley said. These bags outside can break open, causing issues with garbage and attracting unwanted pests. This also leads to customers not receiving credits for their bottles and cans.

A list of Clynk drop-off locations can be found at: clynk.com/drop-offs/.