Toss your plastics into recycling bins

San Franciscans looking for something to save this Earth Day can add some unexpected entries to the usual lists of threatened places and endangered species: disposable forks, frappuccino cups and take-out containers.

Norcal Waste Systems, The City’s waste pickup company, will start accepting virtually all types of plastic — except bags, film wrap, bubble-wrap and Styrofoam — for recycling in blue curbside bins on Earth Day, scheduled for April 22.</p>

“This is great news,” Bayview resident Shane King said. “I tend to be random and throw about three-fourths of my plastic into the recycling and one-fourth into the garbage.”

King said he’s been “hip to recycling” since his mother taught him to recycle in the 1970s, but said he doesn’t understand the number-coded recycling system. He said he drops items in his blue bin that “feel” recyclable.

The company currently asks residents and businesses to check the obscure number codes molded into plastic cups and containers before tossing them into the blue curbside bins. It currently accepts plastic containers for recycling if marked with numbers 2, 4 or 5, such as margarine tubs, company spokesman Robert Reed said.

Other types of plastic containers that are placed in blue bins, such as see-through iced coffee cups, salsa containers and take-out boxes, are currently dumped by Norcal at the Altamont landfill, Reed said.

But that’s set to change next week.

“This opens the door to a lot of additional recycling,” Reed said.

The change is a meaningful one that could set a national example and help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution, said Dan Jacobsen, a lobbyist at nonprofit Environment California. Jacobsen said it’s better to avoid plastic than recycle it.

Norcal sorts 4,200 tons of paper, glass and plastic every week atits Pier 96 facility and loads bails of recyclable items onto ships that carry the material to recyclers around the Pacific Rim, Reed said.

Norcal recently struck agreements with manufacturers willing to accept a new array of rigid plastics which will be chipped into flakes and pellets for use in such products as ski parkas, plastic lumber, recycling bins and plastic packaging, he said.

The different types of plastic are made from processed crude oil, said Nitash Balsara, a chemical engineering professor at UC Berkeley. He said plastic recycling is growing in importance as oil supplies diminish and grow more expensive.

jupton@examiner.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police Chief Bill Scott on Wednesday said a rebranding and reoganization of the former Gang Task Force amounts to “more than just the name change.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faced with surge in shootings, Chief Scott reenvisions SFPD’s Gang Task Force

New Community Violence Reduction Team adds officers with community-policing experience

Stores including Walgreens and Safeway are required to pay their employees additional hazard pay under a city ordinance that is currently set to expire later this month. (Shutterstock)
Grocery workers could gain additional weeks of $5 per hour hazard pay

San Francisco will vote next week on whether to extend a law… Continue reading

The fatal shooting of San Francisco resident Roger Allen by Daly City police on April 7 prompted protests in both cities. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Daly City approves body-worn and vehicle cameras for police after fatal shooting

Daly City officials on Wednesday approved body and vehicle cameras for police… Continue reading

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

Most Read