We’ve been recycling long before there was even an industry for it. Our founders immigrated to San Francisco in the mid 1800’s looking for opportunity and they eventually found work doing what no one else wanted to do – picking up other people’s garbage.
They called themselves scavengers – in fact, the Recology Sunset Scavenger company name is a nod to these same founders. The original scavengers sorted through trash to find what was salvageable by rewashing, repackaging, and selling bottles, and by sorting and separating rags and papers from other refuse materials. Little did they know that they were creating a foundation for our current business model today.
To this day, many of our employees are descendants of our Italian founders.
Some key milestones from our history:
- By 1921, the San Francisco scavengers became an organized business, along with other small collectors in the area. Two major companies emerged – Scavenger’s Protective Association and Sunset Scavenger Company. Both companies were given exclusive refuse collection licenses for the City of San Francisco. These licenses are still held today.
- In 1935, the two collection companies formed Sanitary Fill Company (today known as Recology San Francisco), the first of a number of jointly owned subsidiaries. Sanitary Fill Company’s charter was to develop disposal capacity for the increasingly large amount of refuse that was overwhelming the City. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, both San Francisco collection companies grew and expanded their services to keep pace with San Francisco’s growth.
- In 1965, as part of a modernization program, Scavenger’s Protective Association changed its name to Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling Company. Sunset continued to operate from a site that had previously been a landfill near the San Francisco/San Mateo County line.
- In 1983, with aim toward expansion, the company – called Golden Gate Disposal – was reorganized as Norcal Solid Waste Systems.
- In 1986, Norcal was sold to its 570 employees and their Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to ensure Norcal’s independence.
- In 1987, Norcal purchased Envirocal (formerly Sunset Scavenger). With this merger, Norcal became one of the nation’s 10 largest 100%-employee-owned companies, with a substantial minority representation among its shareholders.
- In 2009, Norcal Waste Systems changed its name to Recology Inc. to reflect its commitment to sustainable practices.
- As of 2016, Recology employee owners proudly serve 127 communities throughout California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada.