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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is it Time to End SF's Recycling Centers?

I was thinking to myself, it is worthwhile for the City and County of San Francisco to have recycling centers at major grocery stores around the city? In my perspective, I believe it's time to end those centers for many reasons.

Regardless of any state or local laws that require recycling centers, just the sight of these centers makes me sick to my stomach because of the unsavory acts that happen.
  • Ever ride Muni and notice some stinky guy with two garbage bags full of aluminum cans and plastic bottles while the damn bag is leaking? It makes me question if the guy is a druggie trying to get some more cash to get high.
  • There are trucks that roam the city at night looking through your blue bins on the street (a.k.a. trash pickup day) to find valuable aluminum cans so they can haul it to their nearest recycling site and receive a wad of cash. But has the city really enforced it? No. But now with Newsom's new law about mandatory recycling and composting, we the garbage company customers can be financially penalized when it wasn't our damn fault since those "professional" thieves just rummage through the blue can and throw the newspapers into the black trash bin.
  • Let's also remember that people stealing out of our blue trash bins are also making our garbage rates go higher. Sunset Scavenger (a.k.a. "Recology") makes money on the items in the blue bins and passes on the savings into your service bill. My home recycles so much, we asked for a bigger blue bin than the standard size most city residents get.
  • I've always wondered just how these recyclers can really make that much money off of cans, bottles, and other stuff. I don't think spending an hour would make the city's minimum wage of about $10 (don't forget the new sick time laws and health care), so why not just find a real job?

I think the city should rethink about their options on recycling:
  1. Outright close all recycling centers and setup only ONE center down at the city dump. It makes people choose, throw it in their blue bin, or haul it all the way across town where Muni doesn't go nearby to visit the city dump?
  2. Instead of those shipping crate recycling centers, how about automated recycling vending machines? Here's a great example: Andronico's on Irving used to do recycling, but it wasn't some place to drop off a garbage bag and get it weighed. It was a place where there were three machines about the size of soda vending machines, and each machine was for each type of item (glass, plastic, and cans). The machine was made so that a user opens a door, inserts one bottle or can, and shuts the door to recycle the item, then repeat. For the person who just likes to get a few nickels and dimes for their soda drinking, sure, it was a fun thing to do. But... for those hardcore recyclers, it was a total pain in the ass because recycling more than 20 cans took FOREVER! Plus, you never got dollar bills or a check, it was just purely nickels, dimes, and quarters.


Anonymous said...

While I believe more should be done about professional thieves, how about the old Asian ladies you see running around Downtown, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, etc. They make their livelihoods off of the extra money they get from the cans and bottles. Certainly they aren't skilled enough to get "real" job and are relegated to under the table jobs.

I think the best option you suggested was #2. It would deter mass sell-off and perhaps promote individual recycling.

Anonymous said...

A few days ago I was having lunch at "The Toaster Oven" restaurant (near 2nd and Harrison) and this Chinese lady who steals cans from the restaurants was going from table to table grabbing the soda cans off the tables while people were drinking from them. She totally grabbed by Dr. Pepper can off the table from next to my plate before I could see her.

I think the need for any recycling fee/payment is long over. Most people these days recycle for the environmental reasons.

We need to cancel this entire recycling fee/payment system to put a stop to this ridiculous underground economy of trash thieves wandering our streets – making noise and making a mess.