The Art of Recology

Recology believes that art plays a unique role in educating and inspiring the public. By supporting artists who create work from materials that have been thrown away, the Recology Artist in Residence (AIR) Programs encourage us to see discarded materials in a new light and reflect on our own consumption practices.

Founded in San Francisco in 1990, Recology AIR Programs now operate in four cities: San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Astoria. GLEAN in Portland is a collaboration between Recology, crackedpots, an environmental arts organization, and Metro, the regional government that manages the Portland metropolitan area’s garbage and recycling system. In Astoria, the Coastal Oregon Artist Residency (COAR), is a collaboration between Recology and Astoria Visual Arts.

Over 170 professional and 30 student artists have participated in these programs.

San Francisco artists

GLEAN artists 

Recology King County artists


Our AIR Programs are designed to support local artists and art communities. Resident artists are provided with access to materials at our facilities, studio space and a stipend, and exhibitions are held at the end of each residency. After their residencies, artists leave artwork to be kept in Recology’s permanent collection. These pieces are shown in exhibitions that promote the power of reuse.

Images San Francisco

Images GLEAN

Images Recology King County Seattle


Each AIR Program accepts applications annually from professional artists working in the local community. Artists are selected by advisory boards, and applications are evaluated based on a variety of criteria:

  • The artist’s demonstrated commitment to resource conservation and recycling through art
  • The artist’s experience in art education and/or environmental education
  • How well the residency can help provide the artist with professional growth
  • The quality of the artist’s previous work
  • The artist’s references
Volunteer Program


The Recology Volunteer Program was established in 2008 to support local organizations that work to make our communities better to live in. Recology employees and community volunteers work together several times each year to beautify and restore community centers, retirement homes, parks, and other public spaces with fresh recycled paint, compost, drought resistant plants, and mulch.

In 2013/2014, almost 1,200 employees in California, Oregon and Washington participated in 34 volunteer events, committing over 8,000 hours in gardening, painting, and repairing facilities within communities we serve.

Latest Volunteer Events

Marysville Habitat for Humanity Headquarters Cleanup
In May 2016 we joined forces with Habitat of Humanity to revitalize their new service hub for the homeless.  We painted the facility’s interior and exterior using our recycled paint and spread Recology arbor mulch on the landscape in preparation for the facility’s grand opening later this year.
City of Patterson Community Cleanup
The City of Patterson is located near our Recology Blossom Valley Organics facility, and many of our compost customers live in this community. The city needed to clean up an overgrown thoroughfare in the main residential part of town – So, along with donating recycled mulch, we worked together to spread the material and help create an easy-to-maintain landscape.
City of San Francisco, Little Hollywood District Cleanup
Recology teamed up with SF Recreation & Park to beautify Little Hollywood Park in San Francisco. The park had become overgrown with weeds and dead leaves, and all the benches were rusty. Using recycled paint, we re-painted benches, walls, and handrails, and spread Recology compost throughout planter boxes. Closing the loop, we hauled multiple debris boxes of weeds and yard trimmings away, processing them into compost.
Environmental Learning Center

John A. Legnitto Environmental Learning Center

The John A. Legnitto Environmental Learning Center (ELC) at Recology San Francisco is where the public goes to learn more about resource recovery. Named after one of our most loved general managers who passed away in 2015, the ELC is utilized for class field trips, tours, and other educational meetings.

The ELC houses a classroom, the Artist in Residence program offices, and a gallery featuring work made by past artists.


Sign up for a facility tour to learn more about materials processing, zero waste efforts in San Francisco, and the Recology Artist in Residence Program

Recology offers public tours on the 3rd Saturday and 4th Wednesday of each month. Both tours include an overview of Recology and recycling operations in San Francisco and a visit to the art studio and sculpture garden.

Third Saturday Tour:
Geared toward adults interested in learning more about the Recology Artist in Residence Program, and required for those who intend on applying for an artist residency. This tour does not include a visit to Recycle Central at Pier 96 (the Recology San Francisco recycling and sorting facility).

Fourth Wednesday Tour:
Focuses on recycling, and includes a visit to Recycle Central at Pier 96 (the Recology San Francisco recycling and sorting facility).

Please note:

  • Tours include a walk up three long flights of stairs and walking on uneven surfaces and hills
  • Certain areas of the facility may be extremely slippery
  • Tours involve loud noises, strong smells and dust
  • Attendees must wear closed-toe, comfortable walking shoes (no sandals)
  • For safety reasons, tours are not appropriate for children under nine years of age
  • Tours are not held if it is raining
  • Tours take approximately two hours to complete; visitors must be able to complete the entire tour

Field trips for the San Francisco Unified School District are scheduled through the San Francisco Department of the Environment.  Applications for these free field trips are due in August of each school year.  Please call (415) 355-3700 for more information. Additional school field trips are provided throughout the year based upon availability.

To make a reservation, please call (415) 330-9943.

Schools & Education


A large portion of our work involves educating customers and little ones about the recycling programs available to them. Our goal is to inspire others to create their own personal Waste Zero habits, and share the knowledge that your recycling efforts impact all of us.

Education programs range from printed signage and sorting guides, to hands-on training for local organizations and HOAs. We also partner with schools, community groups, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to promote environmental programs.

We work with local organizations and agencies to offer tours of many of our recycling facilities for classes, businesses, and local representatives.

Find out more about recycling education programs in your area.

News & Events