More recyclers shut down during pandemic. Here's how to get your deposits back

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Friday, May 29, 2020
Recyclers shutter during coronavirus pandemic
More recycle centers shut down during pandemic, but you're still paying CRV. Here's how to get it back.

SAN BRUNO, Calif. (KGO) -- Even before the pandemic hit, Californians were having trouble finding places to recycle their bottles and cans. Hundreds of buy-back centers had already shut down over the past year. Now, many of the remaining centers have also closed, at least temporarily, to help stop the virus from spreading.

So is there any way to get your CRV deposits back?

Recycling changes have kind of gone under the radar. The governor's executive order allowed recyclers and grocers to stop redeeming bottles and cans during the pandemic -- if they were concerned about safety. The CalRecycle website doesn't have information about where to go -- so 7 On Your Side found out.

RELATED: Recycling centers shut down, leaving consumers unable to redeem bottle deposits

The garage at Melissa Rohlf's San Bruno home is filled with empties.

"This is glass bottles, cans, plastic, plastic... I've got bags and bags or plastic bottles," Rohlf said, showing us bags and boxes filled with bottles and cans.

She used to take them to her neighborhood Re-Planet recycling center -- until Re-Planet closed all 279 locations last summer.

Bottles and cans piled up in her garage. And then, the pandemic.

"It was already a challenge because so many places I used to go to on the peninsula have closed, but now with shelter-in-place I don't know what the rules are if they're even open how to recycle while maintaining social distancing. I'm super confused," Rohlf said.

RELATED: Grocers are required to redeem CRV on bottles -- but do they?

Many recyclers did close their doors during the pandemic -- and grocers are temporarily off the hook to redeem your empties.

So where does that leave folks like Rohlf with all these bottles ?

"I very much would like to recycle them, and I don't know where to go with rules of necessary services," she said.

Rohlf says her first concern is for the environment -- but her gripe is about the deposit she can't get back.

"The easier you make the recycling program, the more people will do it. I think the CRV makes it more complicated. You're paying a fee that nobody likes, a tax. It's difficult to get the tax back which nobody likes. Maybe it did at one time help people recycle, but I don't think it does right now... For people with a tight budget it's probably very difficult for them to pay that extra CRV fee," she said.

RELATED: Is it time to scrap California's bottle deposit law?

Plus, there's no room in her garage for the car!

7 On Your Side did some research and bingo: we found an open recycling center near Rohlf - ZARC International of South City.

"I'm really grateful for you finding this place, I had no idea where to go," she told us.

Behind her, cars lined up for blocks. Inside, everyone had to wear a mask and keep a six-foot social distance.

Rohlf and her son Cole filled two giant bins -- and they still had more.

They guided it all tentatively up to the front.

RELATED: Consumers search for open recycling centers, California lawmakers look into bottle redemption solutions

It finally got weighed...

... and they finally got paid.

"We got $40 and four cents. He got all straight As in school. We're gonna get some ice cream," Rohlf said of her son.

RELATED: CalRecycle announces a high-tech solution to the recycling center crisis

If you want to recycle, we have answers for you. We've found open recycling centers all across the bay area. Here's the list of recycling centers that are still open:


Dos Palos Recycling Co.

1565 Olivina Ave. Livermore, CA 94551

(209) 518-4771

Refund Recycle Center LLC

2680 Old First St. Livermore, CA 94550

(925) 606-1435

Sanchez Cash for Cans

1468 44th Ave. Oakland, CA 94601

(510) 261-2966

Tri Ced Community Recycling

33377 Western Ave. Union City, CA 94587

(510) 471-3850


Pleasant Hill Recycling Center

1320 Galaxy Way, Concord, CA 94520

(925) 689-3900

Recycling Zone Inc.

181A Clark Ave. Pittsburg, CA 94565

(707) 396-0078

The Sun Recycling Center

3315 Willow Pass Rd. Baypoint, CA 94565

(925) 305-3706

Santana Recycling

1725 Cavallo Rd. Antioch, CA 94509

(916) 856-4734

Delta Scrap and Salvage

1371 Main St. Oakley, CA 94561

(925) 754-1474

Sun's Pad and Foam Recycling

108 Medburn St. B1 Concord, CA 94520

(925) 246-7990


NONE OPEN THAT WE FOUND - if you have information on an open facility, let us know!


Blue Front Recycling

2877 Solano Ave. Napa, CA 94558

(916) 519-2040

Devlin Road Transfer Station Buy Back

889 Devlin Rd. American Canyon, CA 94503

(707) 255-5200


Our Planet Recycling SF

445V Bayshore Blvd. San Francisco, CA 94124

(415) 866-6102


ZARC International LLC

26 S Linden Ave. South San Francisco, CA 94080

(415) 215-8059

J & D Recycling

1015 N Amphlett Blvd. San Mateo, CA 94401

(510) 472-3068


Danny Recycling Center

1745 Walsh Ave. Santa Clara, CA 95050

(408) 492-9033

Bay Counties Waste Services Inc

301 Carl Rd. Sunnyvale, CA 94089

(408) 566-1809


Boss Recycling

340 Mini Dr. Vallejo, CA 94589

(916) 912-0329

Recycling Zone Inc.

1973 Broadway St. Vallejo, CA 94589

(707) 437-1301

Recycling Zone Inc.

4989B Peabody Rd. Fairfield, CA 94533

(707) 396-0078

VALCORE Recycling

38 Sheridan St. Vallejo, CA 94590

(707) 645-8258

M & R Recycling

659 Highway 12, Rio Vista, CA 94571

(209) 365-3299

Vaca Recycling

1193 E Monte Vista Ave. Ste. B, Vacaville, CA 95688

(707) 689-5023


Brambila Recycling

370 Sebastopol Rd. Santa Rosa, CA 95407

(916) 643-5313

N Leasing Company LLC

3911 Santa Rosa Ave. Santa Rosa, CA 95407

(707) 585-0511

Petaluma Recycling Center

315 2nd St. Petaluma, CA 94952

(707) 763-4761

Brogard Inc.

470 Caletti Ave. Windsor, CA 95492

(707) 462-4745

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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