Los Angeles, CA— Consumer Watchdog has called upon the Governor’s Department of Finance to strike a $500,000 allocation in the legislative-approved budget for the San Francisco “Bottle Bank” mobile recycling program.
“After 15 months of operation, the project has redeemed just $143,000 in bottle and can deposits after expending $3.6 million,” Consumer Watchdog’s President Jamie Court wrote to Joe Stephenshaw, the Director of the Department of Finance. “It is costing 79 cents to return a nickel to consumers. Expenses for the program are $142,000 per month and the most the program has redeemed in a month is $14,000 in deposits. Giving $500,000 to the Bottle Bank is throwing good money after bad. It will never be sustainable. “
“This is why, according to Public Record Act requests, CalRecycle has refused the Bottle Bank’s request for $500,000 in additional funding. Instead, the backers went around CalRecycle and directly to the legislature. This is not a viable program.”
Read the letter here.
KGO recently ran a report about the failing program. Other details exposed through Public Records Act requests can be found here.
The pilot was concocted by grocery store consultants as a ploy to remove all CRV refund responsibilities from more than 450 supermarkets in San Francisco but not to deliver real convenience, Consumer Watchdog found in an investigative report on CalRecycle pilot programs.
Once CalRecycle deemed the pilot operational, 70 stores that paid fines to opt out of recycling saved $4.5 million over nearly two years.
“The SF pilot has shown itself to be a colossal financial failure and should not get a penny more in funding,” said Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker.
“Supermarket locations offer only weekday service once a week during limited hours when consumers work and only one location offers Saturday hours. There is no permanent physical presence reminding consumers that they have access to redemption because the trucks rotate.
“This scam involved payment of more than $700,000 to supermarket consultants out of CalRecycle county and city recycling grants dispensed each year to meet only one objective—getting supermarkets off the hook for recycling. Throwing more good money after bad will not make this program sustainable.”