Recycling in San-Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — How do you throw away a cup of coffee in San Francisco? You take the lid off and put it in the recycle bin. The soiled cup goes in the compost bin. Nothing goes to a landfill. That’s the law.

San Francisco residents pay less per month for their recycle and compost bins than they do for their landfill bins. It’s a financial incentive to encourage participation.

  • San Francisco Department of the Environment creates policy, develops outreach and education programs and deals with policy compliance.
  • San Francisco Department of Public Works oversees the residential refuse rate.
  • Recology is a privately owned company that contracts with the city to haul garbage. It has a monopoly on San Francisco garbage collection as it holds all the permits issued by the City’s Refuse Collection and Disposal Ordinance of 1932.

“A lot of city governments have contentious relationships with their haulers,” said Julie Bryant, a zero-waste coordinator for the city. “We know we can try and experiment with a lot of things because Recology is going to be here for a long time. The partnership with them is one of the keys to our success.”

The Valley has a more competitive market, with several big-name waste haulers such as Waste Management and Republic Services operating side by side.