7 recycling centers in San Francisco have been evicted in the last 18 months, and more are threatened to follow. A recent article from SF Bay predicts that the closure of one Safeway recycling center (On Market and Church) could impact 118 smaller mom and pop shops in the surrounding area.
When a recycling center closes, the store then has two options: Allow in-store redemption, or opt to pay the 100 dollar daily fine. While larger stores are able to pay this fee, it shifts the recycling burden over to smaller stores in the surrounding area who are less equipped to handle the influx.
While the "reverse vending machine" model complies with the law, they are inefficient for mass loads and have to be hand emptied when overfilled.
Compared to the 35 recycling centers across town in 1990, San Francisco has now become the most under-served city in the state for recycling center availability.
District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar notes that these closures eliminate "a small but consistent income stream that [many] really need to survive in this city", and faces the unfortunate irony that "For a city that brags about being such an Environmental leader, we may be..the most under-served in the state".
George Donkor of CalRecycle confirms Mar's fear by noting that San Francisco has 41% unserved zones, a number that will rise to 57% with the closure of the Market street Safeway. "I don't believe there is any community in the state that has that number of unserved zones," he says.
CalRecycle continues to promote the need for recycling centers, in addition to curbside recycling programs. Deputy Director Jose Ortiz sees it as "a matter of justice in many ways; making sure people who paid money at the front end get it back."
In addition to local businesses and residents, local officials are worried about the disproportionate burden on neighborhoods with remaining recycling programs, such as districts 6 and 10.
Debbie Raphael, director of SF Department of the Environment, says they're "...seeing unintended consequences of deep impacts on neighborhoods" and "lots of human impacts that are way beyond recycling rates here."
With recyclers and citizens rallying at City Hall, local officials working on resolutions, and CalRecycle providing assistance, it will have to be a city-wide team effort to stop this wave of closures. In the meantime, sign this petition to Safeway to stop the eviction of supermarket recycling centers.
Read more about this issue in our previous guest article.
SF Gate, NBC Bay Area