Letter to the Editor

San Francisco Chronicle

May 22, 2021 Saturday

Dysfunctional System

Regarding "How California can redeem bottle recycling" (Editorial, May 19): Recycling means creating convenient redemption, not subsidizing waste haulers.

There is a single redemption center open to return bottles and cans for California Redemption Value (CRV) deposits in all of San Francisco. Grocery stores, which are supposed to take back the empties, increasingly refuse to, according to undercover video by local news stations.

California consumers leave behind nearly half of every nickel they deposit for their cans as the state's redemption rate has sunk to 57%. That makes it the third worst returning bottle deposit system in America.

Senate Bill 38 (state Sen. Bob Wieckowski) forces the beverage industry to arrange for convenient redemption of bottle and can deposits, holding it to an 85% redemption standard, making it like every other successful bottle deposit program in the state and nation.

SB38 is opposed by the waste haulers, who have been paid excessive subsidies, forcing mass closures of redemption centers. When curbside is the only option, not only is the CRV deposit forfeited but at least one quarter of the bottles are contaminated and go to landfills.

The waste hauling industries' alternative is AB1454 (Assemblymember Richard Bloom), which includes giveaways to the grocers, who will have fewer obligations to redeem, and for haulers, who get $25 million in new subsidies. Its paltry offer of $25,000 in startup costs for new recycling centers will not bring a single center back to high-rent San Francisco. AB1454 is the same old Sacramento dance by waste haulers: preserve the dysfunctional system and keep lining your pockets.

Jamie Court, Los Angeles