San Francisco’s Delayed Mobile Recycling Service Could Cost California Big Money Once Launched

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – The CRV recycling effort in California is in trouble and consumers are feeling ripped off.

“It’s written right there,” a consumer told Michael Finney of 7 On Your Side. “‘California cash refund’, but I won’t get any money back.”

Here’s another frustrated consumer: “If they’re not going to take back my cans and bottles, why am I paying CRV?

Yet another: “People are going to wake up and say, ‘Where is my money going? “”

Thus, the State allows the territories to experiment with new recycling schemes. In San Francisco, when a mobile recycling program was announced, 7 On Your Side was there.

Charles Sheehan from the San Francisco Department of the Environment told us, “We’re going to have a truck, we’re going to have a trailer, and we’re going to stop at every supervisor district.

It has been compared to food trucks. Rather than going to a recycling center, the recycling center will come to you. Our report aired in February 2020. Here’s how Michael Finney concluded this story: “Now there are a lot of details to work out, so it could be a year before it all really gets off the ground.”

RELATED: CalRecycle Announces High-Tech Solution to Recycling Center Crisis

Well, it’s been almost twice as long now, so how does the program work?

If you visit the CalRecycles website, you will find a page dedicated to the beverage container recycling pilot program. San Francisco’s mobile recycling is one of them.

Scroll down the page. “The existing pilots are increasing convenience in 12 cities in California,” it read.

Keep scrolling … and you’ll find a great photo of San Francisco’s Pier 7 with the iconic Transamerica Pyramid in the background.

The photo is captioned: “San Francisco Pilot Program: Multiple Methods, Including Late Payment Bag Drop Sites, Mobile Centers, and Permanent Recycling Centers.”

Does it seem operational? Now, look around you. Do you see moving trucks?

7 On Your Side asked CalRecycle for an interview. The agency never accepted an interview, writing in part: “The mobile part of the San Francisco pilot is expected to launch in January 2022. CalRecycle will be able to discuss the mobile part of this program once it is launched. … “

So this is it. There is no mobile program … at least not working.

“Is it difficult to put a truck on the road. A truck that receives text messages or gives an SMS on its location. Is it difficult?” Asked Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog. “Does it take, like, two years to do that? It shows incompetence and it shows why pilots will never work. If they can’t put a truck on the road in two years, how are you. do they make it work when he’s on the road? “

Consumer Watchdog has dodged the state well when it comes to its recycling efforts. The court says it’s actually worse than it looks at first glance, because once the pilot program is considered fully operational, the state loses a lot of money. How? ‘Or’ What?

By law, many retailers who are required to take back bottles and cans can opt out if they pay the state $ 100 a day. This new mobile pilot program, when fully operational, will free San Francisco stores from picking up CRV containers or paying pickup fees.

“The state approved the pilot program last July,” the court said, “and then retailers who picked up bottles and cans were no longer required to do so. And yet we are six months away from July and there is no truck. “

CalRecycle says only retailers located in areas of the city served by the program are currently released from the “take back or pay” requirement. 7 On Your Side has requested a map of service areas and will post it as soon as we receive it.

The San Francisco Department of the Environment says it has a partnership with the state that the city is helping to implement.

7 On Your Side spoke to Charles Sheehan from the San Francisco Department of the Environment and asked, “Does San Francisco have a mobile recycling program in place today?” “

Sheehan: “It will be an operation that will start on January 5 of the new year.”

Why is it taking so long? Sheehan told Michael Finney: “CalRecycle opened the application for this in April 2019, we submitted our application in August 2019. We worked with them for a while, they approved our applications in 2021.”

He said there were funds to secure, workers to hire and train, trucks, equipment and software to purchase.

“The way we’re doing it has never been done before in California,” he says, “so we’ve done our due diligence, it’s taking a little bit of time, but we’re launching on Jan.5.”

7 On Your Side will reconnect and see how the deployment goes.

RELATED: Mandatory Composting Coming to California in January Will Change the Way We Dispose of Food

For the moment, Consumer Watchdog is not convinced that it is better to go to neighborhoods with a truck rather than having stores take back the containers they sell.

“We are moving away from convenience,” said Court, “and the way to get a high refund rate, like 90%, which they have in Oregon and other states, is to have points of. back everywhere. “

The new system is different from how you might have done things in the past with recycling. For example, you no longer crush cans. Read on for a Q&A on the process with Charles Sheehan.

Michael finney: How will this work for me as a consumer? I’m home, got all these containers – what now?

Charles sheehan: You have to go to your phone and download the SF Bottle Bank app. You can do it today; you register, you configure the application. Then you go to a grocery store and collect a bag that you put your bottles and cans in. All grocery stores – at least 37 of the 57 – will have them. And once you’ve put all your bottles and cans in the bag, you go to the mobile drop-off site, you choose the one that suits you best, it’s on the app, the schedule. It’s also on our website

No queues, you drop off your bag. They treat it that night or the next day. Within 72 hours the money is deposited from your bank account to your Vemo account – that easy.

Michael finney: And bottles and cans should be kept whole, not crushed, not beaten.

Charles sheehan: Good, keep the bottles and cans whole, without crushing them.

Michael finney: And these bags are the free ones in the stores, or do I have to buy them in the stores that sold me these cans and bottles?

Charles sheehan: Stores sell a pack of eight bags for about $ 2.39, I believe. Once you register, you are entitled to a free two-bag pack, so anyone can get their starter kit for free.

WATCH: 7 On Your Side spoke with Charles Sheehan from the San Francisco Department of the Environment

Check out more stories and videos from Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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