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

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco is trying a new high-tech approach to recycling your bottles and cans. CalRecycle officials announced today they gave the go-ahead to fund a mobile recycling program in San Francisco.

It's an innovative way of redeeming the deposits you pay on your bottles and cans, combining technology with trucks. Instead of fixed recycling locations, the recycling will come to you. It's an idea officials compare with having food trucks bring you your lunch.

When hundreds of recycling centers suddenly closed last summer, consumers had no easy way to redeem deposits on their bottles and cans.

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

Lines grew at the few remaining recycling centers, and lawmakers declared our bottle recycling system needed a complete overhaul.

San Francisco just won approval to try a pioneering mobile recycling system. Instead of consumers going to a recycling center, the center will come to them.

"The mobility gives the option of bringing convenience to the entire city that we didn't necessarily have with fixed locations," said a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of Environment.

Here's how it'll work:

  • Recycling trucks will park in each neighborhood at specific dates and times.

  • Residents bring their bottles and cans.

  • They're bagged, and coded using an app on your phone, then sent to a recycler.

  • The processor calculates your refund and deposits it into your bank account through the app on your phone.

"We're utilizing technology to take out some of the time to make it easier, to make it a little more cost effective," said the SF Department of Environment.

Of course this means you need a smartphone to utilize the mobile recycling program. For those without a phone, the city plans to set up a fixed recycling center to redeem containers in cash. There are many details to work out, and it could be a year before the trucks roll out.

Find a recycling center near you by visiting this website.

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

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