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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Do You Recycle? This Company Wants to Put Cash in Your Wallet.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Go green, get green
  • Go green, get green
San Franciscans loooooove to recycle, and for good reason. Few techniques of self-massage for this city's innumerable preening eco-egos are easier and less time-consuming than tossing paper, plastic, and glass into a separate bin. There's just one problem with recycling as currently practiced by most of us: There's no money in it.

We know, we know. It's not right. You go to the effort of meticulously setting aside all recyclables in their own container, and priggishly insist that your dinner guests and roommates do the same, only to have the city make off with your dime? The good news is that this nightmare of government extortion is over. That's right: TOMRA is coming to town.

That's TOMRA Pacific Inc., a unit of TOMRA of North America, a branch of the international TOMRA business operating in 50 countries, which is itself a subsidiary of TOMRA Galactic Enterprises (headquartered in a tax-friendly, interstellar version of Delaware). The company, which operates 440 recycling centers in California, is opening a recycling center geared to beverage containers at 195 Bayshore Blvd., between Bernal Heights and the Bayview.

At the time of this writing, TOMRA vice-president of business

development Adrian White informs us, the center is in fact open -- although it's "official" opening is slated for Saturday. The center is

designed to handle 5 million containers per month. White says that there's been a drop in such recycling centers in San Francisco in recent years as grocery stores -- which often feature recyclable-exchange outposts -- have left the city.

So why bother piling all those empty Pinot and Kombucha bottles into the back of the ol' hybrid for a cruise along Bayshore Blvd., rather than just dumping them at your own house or apartment complex? "The huge difference between curbside and this is that curbside, you're giving your containers to the city for free," White says. "This is a chance for you, the consumer, to get your money back... A lot of folks in this economy are eager to get that money back."

True, but those possessed of superior environmental probity might still wonder whether the gas burned and carbon emitted from a cross-town drive is worth it. Who knows? Maybe the city can find room for a cycling lane to TOMRA in its new bike plan.

UPDATE: San Francisco Department of the Environment spokesman Mark Westlund tells us in a phone interview that the new TOMRA center is a welcome addition to the city's recycling landscape. Westlund confirms White's assertion that the city is short on bev-container redemption centers. "San Francisco has fewer centers than we need, frankly," he says.

Photo courtesy of TOMRA.

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Peter Jamison

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