Market Street Safeway recycling center slated to close in September

Recyclers along the Upper Market Street corridor are going to have to find another location to redeem cans and bottles for cash.

San Francisco Community Recyclers, located in the Safeway parking lot on Market Street near Church and 14th streets, was notified last week that it would be evicted Sept. 6. The move has some rejoicing, while others are concerned about where recyclables will have to be taken.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes the Safeway, has been urging the grocer to find alternatives to the parking lot center.

“I'm very supportive of it and made that clear to Safeway,” Wiener said in a statement. “The Department of the Environment has been advocating a more dispersed model of accepting recycling, with reverse vending machines and the like spread throughout The City and not concentrated in just a few neighborhoods.”

Safeway officials, meanwhile, said they want to be good neighbors and that this was one way to address the concerns. Safeway officials said The City's curbside recycling program already fills a need, and as a result the Market Street and Webster Street stores' recycling centers will close.

“The widespread availability of curbside recycling makes such facilities obsolete, and second, the facility has a negative impact on customers and neighbors,” Safeway spokesman Keith Turner said in a statement.

The company will look at reverse vending machines to replace the recycling centers at both stores — a strategy Supervisor London Breed supports.

“Recycling centers need to be equally distributed throughout The City and not concentrated,” Breed said. “These [vending machines] are there so the average person can go in and organize their recycling.”

But Mike Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, said reverse vending machines and curbside recycling aren't enough to cover the amount of bottles and cans purchased in San Francisco. Murray said removing recycling centers is backward thinking.

“The suggestion that somehow beverage recycling can be taken care of via curbside recycling is just incorrect,” Murray said. “We love curbside recycling, but the majority of beverage containers aren't consumed inside the home and are not available to be included in curbside recycling.”

Californians Against Waste is a nonprofit organization that helped create the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act in 1986 that allows consumers to redeem bottles and cans for cash.

In that law, there must be a location within a half-mile of supermarkets, known as “convenient zones,” to redeem recyclables. Without a center the requirement falls on all businesses to offer redemption.

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