Mobile Recycling Program Could Fill the Gap Left by Facility Closures

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Publication: San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco is hoping to launch a three-year mobile recycling program to offset the impacts of the widespread closure of facilities where people can redeem bottles and cans for cash.

The City has submitted a plan to state officials that calls for launching a mobile service initially using two trucks that would visit 16 sites in eight supervisorial districts — Districts 1 through 8 — with the fewest available places to redeem cans.

The application includes a list of 39 potential sites, including the parking lots of grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, churches, schools and others. Department of the Environment spokesman Charles Sheehan said the proposed locations are not final and could change.

Most residents in these neighborhoods have to travel at least three miles to reach any of the handful of recycling centers that remain in operation to cash in on the 5- or 10-cent California Redemption Value that consumers pay when buying bottled or canned beverages.

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The City could also stand to benefit from Assembly Bill 54, which was introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week. It provides up to $5 million in state funding for such pilot programs from the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund.

Ting introduced the bill after rePlanet shuttered 284 California recycling centers in August. The closures also impacted San Francisco, further reducing its recycling centers from six in operation this year to four, according to the Department of Environment’s application.