Monday, April 11, 2011

Someone owes me $1.63

I really appreciate the advice a FB friend gave me which was to return my empty bottles and cans to the Recycle Center located in National City. I took my empties to the 30th Street location and found it clean and well organized. The signage was easy to understand and instructed me to separate plastic, cans and bottles into separate bins. When I selected a bin to start with a homeless man (or so I suspected) politely in barely a whisper said to be careful with that bin as it had hidden sharp edges which could easily cut my hand. It took me a full second to appreciate and reflect on what was a truly humane moment, that this “experienced” urban scavenger would look out for a newbie like me. I was humbled by his humanity and concern.

I counted out 109 bottles and cans. Calculated at $.05 per item would equal $5.45 refund at the supermarket. But recycling centers calculate the refund based on weight. The refund rate on plastic was $.93/pound. The weight of my plastic was 1.8 pounds which totaled a $1.67 refund. The refund rate on aluminum was $1.54/pound. The weight of my cans was 1.2 pounds which totaled a $1.85 refund. I had six glass bottles which were counted out and totaled $.30 refund. My total refund $3.82

So I did the responsible thing: collected and cleaned all of my empty bottles and cans. Hauled them to a recycling center, and efficiently separated them into bins to be weighed, which resulted in a LOSS of $1.63 against what I had paid $.05 on each bottle and can. I’m not sure that going Green makes sense to me. I tried to return my empties to the supermarket where I purchased the items, only to be humiliated and treated as a problem rather than part of the environmental solution. I tired to return my empties to a recycling center and found myself shorted on my original expense. Either method seems to undermine the spirit and intent of recycling.

There has to be a better solution.

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