San Francisco Launches BottleBank Mobile Recycling Program Allowing Users To Easily Reclaim Cash – CBS San Francisco

Science & Technology

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5 / BCN) — San Francisco city officials on Wednesday announced the launch of a new mobile recycling pilot program that will not only facilitate recycling, but also make it easier for residents to reclaim their California Redemption Value cash deposit for recyclables.
The new program, called the BottleBank, is being funded by the California Department of Resources and Recycling Recovery and launches on Jan. 5 at two separate locations within the city.
To participate in the program, residents can sign up online or in-person and receive bags with special barcodes. Participants can then fill up the 20-gallon bags with uncrushed CRV bottles and cans and drop them off at mobile collection sites, operated by the non-profit organization San Francisco Conservation Corps.
Once the recyclables are counted, participants can get their refund amount deposited into their accounts. The funds can then be transferred to their bank or Venmo accounts, or transferred to a card for cash, according to city officials.
“Our city is home to a number of unique and first-of-its-kind zero waste programs, including our citywide composting program, and now, our mobile BottleBank recycling program,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “Starting in January, San Franciscans will have an easy, reliable way to earn cash for recycling their bottles and cans, and our small businesses no longer have to worry about redeeming the bottles themselves or paying hefty state fines. It’s a win-win program that other cities across the state can model.”
“CalRecycle is looking forward to the rollout of the San Francisco’s pilot program’s second, mobile redemption phase launching in the New Year that we hope will expand much-needed redemption opportunities for San Francisco residents,” CalRecycle Director Rachel Machi Wagoner said.
The program claims to make the process of redeeming CRV simpler, without being a headache for retailers.
Only two CRV redemption centers remain in San Francisco, when there used to be dozens of them. The law says if there isn’t a redemption center within a half mile of a store, that store has to redeem the CRV containers or face a $100 per day fine.
Even for those who do, it’s clearly not working. A store manager told KPIX 5 he throws recycled containers in the trash dumpster because he has no way of returning them to anyone.
“Retailers, like our small, immigrant-owned businesses, no longer have to accept bottles and cans directly from consumers,” San Francisco Dept. of Environment spokesperson Joseph Sweiss told KPIX 5. “And that’s because we have now a rotating schedule, accessible citywide.”
With the launch of the mobile program, retailers in the city will be considered by the state to be back in compliance with the law.
“It’s creating access for people to recycle, to redeem their 5 to 10 cent CRV deposit,” said Sweiss.  “And we’re alleviating the burdens on so many small retailers who didn’t want to be a part of this program and can’t afford to pay the $100 a day.”
The pilot program, which is being overseen by the city’s Department of the Environment, will begin with two locations, one at 501 Buckingham Way at the Stonestown Galleria parking lot and another location at 250 13th St.
To sign up for the program, residents can either download the BottleBank mobile app on the Apple or Android stores and set up an account; fill out an electronic account sign-up form at; or by using a kiosk at the mobile drop-off sites to receive a card.
The CRV redemption bags used for the program can be picked up at mobile drop-off sites and select retailers like Safeway, Trader’s Joe, Rainbow Grocery, Whole Foods, and Lucky Supermarket locations. For a limited time, participants who sign up early can get up to two free bags, according to city officials.
John Ramos contributed to this report.
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