In the course of one year, Recology sends materials collected from San Francisco’s curbside recycling program to 25 mills, foundries, and manufacturing plants. Our priority is to send bales of recycled material to domestic facilities whenever possible. We tour processing facilities and exchange digital photos with them to confirm all sorted materials from San Francisco get recycled.
Bo Duong is the commodities marketing manager for Recology San Francisco, which sorts and bales the materials city residents and businesses place in their blue recycling bins. In the last year he visited eight processing facilities that purchased recycled materials from Recology San Francisco. Buyers are usually well-established companies we have worked with for many years.
China, formerly the largest buyer of recycled materials, pulled back from the market two years ago. Efforts are underway to develop more manufacturing infrastructure in the U.S. to fill the void. Recycled glass bottles and jars and metal cans go to domestic manufacturing facilities. Plastic bottles go to both domestic and foreign mills depending on the supply needs of individual plants.
The value of recycled materials goes up and down based on global economies and supply and demand. As Bo points out, we know the materials we ship get recycled because the mills pay for them. Therefore, they want to recycle as much as possible to recover their investment.
Some cities paused their recycling programs last spring, saying they did not have the building space to enable employees to abide by social distancing. Recology implemented several additional safety protocols and is keeping San Francisco’s recycling moving during the coronavirus outbreak.
For all these reasons and more, San Franciscans can be confident that the bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard they place in their blue recycling bins truly get recycled.