Ors Csaszar, owner that Our planet Recycling SF, stands besides bales of cans and bottles. (Jessica Placzek/yellowcomic.com)

How plenty of times have actually you looked at the top of a soda can or the side of a bottle, and also seen a 5- or 10-cent CRV stamp? possibilities are you barely considered it.

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Customers line up through their bins the recyclables in ~ Our earth Recycling SF. (Jessica Placzek/yellowcomic.com)

When customers get to the former of the line, their recyclables space weighed. A pound of plastic bottles gets you approximately $1.20. Aluminum is precious as lot as $2 a pound.

That could not sound favor a lot, however it’s sufficient for a grasp of customers to make this their full time job.

“This my work-related for a lengthy time, an ext than 20 years,” says Darwin Laren.

Laren has actually one that those pickup van that"s to be rigged v plywood or steel grating therefore he have the right to haul an ext recyclables. Each day the visits around 10 various bars and restaurants approximately the city to choose up bottles and also cans. Monday v Friday that earns about $150 to $160, and shares the with world who help him.

A number of other customers are everyday regulars, too. Willie Cobb comes to Our earth Recycling every day, making about $10 each trip. He claims it"s a helpful addition to his Supplemental Security earnings checks.

“I get in neighborhoods and also look in the dumpster,” claims Cobb.

Tony flavor with his receipt for simply over 44 dollars precious of recycling. (Jessica Placzek/yellowcomic.com)

People pertained to this center because, let’s challenge it, san Francisco is just one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. And every cent deserve to count. A grasp of human being I speak to have actually other jobs, like Tony Tang, who works for Kaiser Permanente.

Tony saves his provided containers and is constantly on the lookout for more -- even collecting empties indigenous his friends and also family. After 3 months, he built up seven bins the size of large garbage cans. This earns him around $44.

All kinds of civilization gather recyclables. Workers here talk around people dropping off recyclables in quite cars and also letting someone else cash them in. There space janitors who carry in recyclables in bulk, and people who prowl the roads day and night in search of empties. When a couple of say they worth recycling, or they see it as throwing money away if castle don’t redeem the containers, most world come here since the extra cash provides a difference.

The business economics of Recycling

Here’s a rapid primer on just how California Refund Value, or CRV, works.

Let’s to speak you purchase a deserve to of soda at the store. You pay an extra 5 or 10 cent on top of the price that the soda the goes to the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund. It’s usually a pot of money from every the beverage distributors in the totality state. As soon as you’re done v the soda, you deserve to take that can to a recycling center and also get her 5 or 10 cents back.

If you put your soda deserve to in the blue bin, whoever picks up her curbside recycling gets to store that 5 or 10 cents.

If that can never it s okay recycled, her money remains in the recycling fund and also is supplied to subsidize the program.

Centers choose Our planet Recycling make money by selling products in mass for your scrap value.

Let"s take it a closer look in ~ those values.


“The average price to recycle a ton that aluminum was around $550 a ton. The scrap worth for that aluminum was approximately $1,200 every ton. That way a recycling center could make around $650 per ton,” says mark Murray, executive, management director of Californians versus Waste.

Murray says providers making aluminum can be ~ realized it’s lot cheaper to recycle aluminum 보다 mine and process the life material, bauxite. This leads to a higher recycling rate.

Aluminum is baled in ~ Our planet Recycling SF. (Jessica Placzek/yellowcomic.com)


The recycling procedure for glass take away a most energy.

“Glass has what we call a an adverse scrap value," claims Murray. "The typical scrap value of a ton of glass in 2017 was negative $4.55."

While it cost only approximately $100 to process glass in ~ centers prefer Our world Recycling, they would still shed money top top glass if the weren’t because that subsidies from the state.

The subsidies are funded by unclaimed money the end of the California Beverage Container Recycling Fund. But since of the ways these subsidies room calculated, the state has actually been payment out less money in recent years.

Most products can it is in recycled, however municipalities often lack the framework to deal with particular items, like paper products coated in plastic, Styrofoam and other type of plastic. These “recyclables” often finish up in landfill.


There room a most different types of plastic, yet we’re going come look in ~ PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, i beg your pardon is often marked with a recycle symbol neighboring the number 1. In 2017, PET made up around half of the recyclable beverage containers offered in California.

Plastic choose PET can be marketed for reuse. Buyers will bring it come a manufacturing facility where it"s cleaned, chopped,melted, turned right into pellets and also then made into something new.

the cost of recycling pets was roughly $485 a ton. The scrap worth was about $190 every ton," says Murray. "The scrap value for pet plastic covers much less than half of the cost of recycling.”

The recycling the plastic is additionally subsidized by the state.

Additionally, when the price of oil plummets, like it did beginning at the finish of 2014, it becomes cheaper to do virgin plastic 보다 to recycle, top to decreasing scrap values of PET.

Ors Csaszar owner of Our earth Recycling. (Jessica Placzek/yellowcomic.com)

Recycling Centers Dwindle

Profit margins are not large for recycling centers, i beg your pardon factored into the closing of hundreds of recycling centers in California in the last 5 years.

In 1990 san Francisco had 35 recycling centers, “And other males went the end the business. Now I believe we have probably three, 4 or 5 left,” states Ors Csaszar, the CEO that Our earth Recycling.

Tight margins room exacerbated by the rising costs of the city.

“This is a volume business. You need to have land. And also you know exactly how much rental is,” says Csaszar.

It’s not simple to find a welcoming place either. Recently Csaszar had actually to move his business, and also was concerned about finding a suitable site. At some point he discovered a many under Highway 101 top top Bayshore Boulevard.

“San Francisco doesn"t have too many recycling centers because everybody is open-minded around recycling as long as it"s no close to their house,” claims Csaszar.

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Murray states recycling center closures have contributed to a diminish in California"s recycling rates. For beverage containers, CalReycycle reported it dropped from 85 percent in 2013 to a 75 percent recycle price in 2017. Others, though, have actually attributed decreasing rates of recycling to a solid economy.