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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Pleasanton Garbage Service permanently closes Buy Back Center

Uploaded: Nov 5, 2020
As garbage bags of recyclable aluminum cans and plastic bottles pile up in my garage, I have been monitoring the Pleasanton Garbage Service website to see when the Buy Back Center would re-open.

It’s been shutdown since the shelter-in-place order took effect in March. Quite a surprise this week when I checked in and saw the notice that it had been permanently closed.

I reached out the city of Pleasanton and Becky Hopkins, the assistant to the city manager, responded and explained the situation. Contrary to what I thought, the city’s contract with Pleasanton Garbage does not require the recycling center, Hopkins wrote. The company was required to notify the city if it planned to permanently close the facility.

The city received a letter in late July with that notification. Hopkins said city staff met with owner Bob Molinaro and his daughter, Gina Molinaro-Cardera several times to discuss options to keep the center open. The city was notified on Oct. 5 that the company had sent a decertification request to the CalRecycle at the state.

Hopkins noted that in addition to other pandemic the entire redemption/recycling industry has struggled because companies redeeming the cans and plastic bottles do not have markets that allow them to sell the materials for enough to cover their costs and make a profit. The big change was China’s Big Sword policy in 2018 that banned the import of most plastics. For more than 20 years, China had processed most of the recycled plastic in the world.

She wrote that “ residents who want to register their complaints about the program can do so online at or
call Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan or state Sen. Steve Glazer's office as this is a State-run program that needs a legislative fix to make it financially feasible for Buy Back Programs be offered.”

There are two small operations in Livermore located at 1565 Olivina Ave. and 2680 Old First St. that are still operating. The recycling operation in the Ranch 99 shopping center in Dublin also has closed in recent months.

Incidentally, fluorescent light bulbs still can be dropped off at the transfer station on Busch Road.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Lahommed, a resident of Dublin,
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:07 am

Lahommed is a registered user.

They charge you when you buy recycle items...yet they make it impossible to recycle? Another way they get more money from the tax payer and take away any opportunity to recover some money back for doing the right thing. So in truth recycle is another scam in calif. The recycle in Livermore gives you little for a lot of recycle thus its not even worth it. This is failure of California's representatives that has been happening since the 70s.

Posted by Jocelyn Combs, a resident of Pleasanton Valley,
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:07 am

Jocelyn Combs is a registered user.

Well that's disappointing.
I understand the plastic recycling issue and China's position.
I thought that aluminum was still profitable to recycle stateside.
Time to do some lobbying...

Posted by Rich Buckley, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 5, 2020 at 11:26 am

Rich Buckley is a registered user.

I've felt for years that communities are better off not entering legal partnerships with Sanitation Companies. There is an immediate release of oversight or care spread throughout the combined enterprises. Prices (and services) are raised based on partial information that usually does not include corporate salaries, with everyone inflating figures along the way for personal gain. Customer satisfaction with billing powers asserted by the sanitation company is not considered a high priority.

Having said that relative to the business model, I have no problem with the attentive service I have received from the good and helpful Livermore Sanitation route manager, the individual drivers of Livermore Sanitation and their helpful office staff. The two issues need to be kept in their proper spheres. The route managers, drivers and staff are always helpful trying to provide the best service possible given the working rules of the business model. They should not be drawn into the discussion as the problem.

Inherent in the current business model is the cities foolish consent to make the individual property owner liable for the bad credit of the tenant and the usual sloppy manner of notifying a property owner their tenant is months in arrears and if the bill isn't now paid by the property owner in a manner suitable to the sanitation company, the owner's property will be liened and if necessary sold to pay the bill. So an $88.05 quarterly charge is ballooned into hundreds of dollars by the time the owner receives the unsettling notice.

Other lesser problems have been drop boxes during construction.
Recognizing property managers with temporary service for hauling.
Recognizing Owners who come in to clean up after a tenant leaves.

In the long run we are better off with a business model that does not include legal partnerships with Sanitation Company. The cities are better off remaining free and independent to negotiate the best deal possible and not sign and forget themselves into partnerships.

Each utility is different. This environment is constantly changing. Power systems in the way of community size mini-thorium reactors will likely evolve the relationship between PG&E and communities. Water districts appear great owned by cities until it's time for replacement of the lines. Each utilities has it's own dynamics. What seems good for one this year, may fade into obsolete and inadequate over priced burdens making us question our wisdom the following year. Right I rather see my city represent just the citizens on a constant basis and not contract away to the sanitation companies.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 5, 2020 at 7:43 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

This information encourages me to take my garage full of plastic bottles to the top of Altamont Pass and throw them into the wind.

Posted by dlq, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 6, 2020 at 7:26 am

dlq is a registered user.

The recommendation for us ask the legislature to solve a "supply and demand" problem can only result in higher deposit fees and increased subsidy. Instead, we should ask them what % of your 10cent deposit goes to the final recycle processing and resale firms.

Posted by Silverfox, a resident of Castlewood,
on Nov 6, 2020 at 9:42 pm

Silverfox is a registered user.

Yet we still have to pay the CRV and can't get it back. Grocery stores are nottaking them back sue to the pandemic. Everytime I go to the place in Old First Street I have at least a 2 hour wait. And that is just to get into the lot let alone once I get my bags out of my trunk.
I can now see the highways and streets being trashed again with vcans and bottles.

Posted by, a resident of Diablo,
on Nov 9, 2020 at 4:51 am is a registered user.

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Posted by James Michael, a resident of Val Vista,
on Nov 10, 2020 at 8:13 am

James Michael is a registered user.

Of course, the logic to this could be that most of us will not want to go to Livermore and we will deposit our plastic and aluminum in our recycling cans and then the Pleasanton Garbage Service will make the money.

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