In Response to Mr. Forkash’s Letter

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Northern California Recycling Association.

By Arthur R. Boone, Center for Recycling Research (CRR)

I think your article brings a needed perspective to the question, but I don’t think I would put all the pieces together as you do.

My orientation is of a man who goes through trash all the time, looking to see what’s in play in the marketplace that is not recyclable. I started my quest being exasperated by my Zero Waste friends who had little to no idea about what’s getting thrown away and the disarray of these and other reformers at creating various minimum content and other laws to drive the reuse of previously unused scrap materials.

Paper, wood, metal and glass materials have been recycled for over 100 years; plastics and composites are the new guys on the block with no experience or even interest in what happens to their stuff after the first sale. In 2011, when I got up to 250 entries in my list, I discovered nobody was interested then (nor now, for that matter) in my little list. In the process of going through all this stuff, I realized I had created a mini-MRF, far more discerning than the monstrosities working today, with good attention to reuse. Still looking for my first bigger-than-bench-scale site, but closer than I was.

I also think AB2020’s big mistake was failing to recognize that unless CRV return was very much tied to the supermarket (its hours, location, convenience, etc.), a disconnect would exist for the always-short-of-time consumer that would allow, even encourage, folks for whom many nickels make a living to get involved in the redemption transactions. Markets hated all those scruffy underclass people and the CGA’s eternal antipathy to the idea got a face (usually what I saw black or brown) on it. And, since CalRecycle (as it’s called) gets its money from the grocers, the grocers and their lobbyists call the shots.

My recent but incomplete survey of CRV sites in operation says there are only three in Sonoma County, two in Alameda, SF and Napa counties, one each in Solano and Contra Costa counties, and too incomplete data for Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; the AB2020 arrow has landed in the mud, I wish all agreed on that. Maybe when CV trundles off into history, we can talk about it.

Note: Boone operated a Saturday morning buyback in North Oakland from early 1984 until early 1989. 

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