Environment & Innovation - Recology
Resource Recovery


What you might consider trash, Recology calls resources – just a simple change in perspective. This is why we describe what we do as resource recovery.

Recology implements recycling programs and builds infrastructure at its facilities to recover recyclables and reduce landfill-bound materials. By seeking out and utilizing new technology systems to sort and extract materials, we’re able to return organic materials to farms as compost, and provide recycled raw materials (such as plastic or aluminum) to manufacturers.

While you’re collecting your food scraps and yard trimmings, and accumulating your recyclables, Recology is engineering and developing programs and services to recover and reuse both. Take a simple plastic bottle, for example. These plastics can be recycled through the collection and recovery systems at Recology, and made into new products, like jackets made from these recycled plastic bottles. You might even see your old furniture as part of an art installation one day.  This recovery process is crucial in reducing the impact of waste on our environment, and moving beyond waste.

Want to know how Recology can help you increase your recycling and composting efforts at your home or business? Learn how.




Recycling Services

On average, Recology recovers over 600 million pounds of recyclables each year, and we’re continuously researching ways to recycle more items to be made into new products. Our latest engineering effort has been in planning, designing and implementing a system constructed to collect and recycle “film plastics” – which are used to make items like grocery bags. Historically, film plastics were a hard-to-recycle item with little to no end-market.  Recology is working to change this.

Composting Services

Recology designed and built the first large scale compost facility in California in 1996.  Today, Recology recovers food scraps and yard trimmings that are disposed of, and from this material manufactures over 1 billion pounds of compost annually.  The compost Recology makes from your organic materials are then used by local farmers to grow food, which is returned to you in the form of fresh produce, grains, or even wine. In 2013, Recology sold 296 million pounds of compost in California alone. Learn more about our compost by visiting Recology Organics.


Zero Waste

Recology: A World Without Waste

Zero waste is more than just a goal for the communities in which we work – it’s a goal for ourselves; especially in how we work and with whom we partner. Recology has taken significant measures as a company to work toward zero waste.  Want to get there with us?  See how we’re changing our behavior, and reach out to schedule a waste audit. Let’s get there together.

How We Work
to Achieve Zero Waste
Whenever possible, Recology uses recycled materials to build and maintain each of our offices. Our San Francisco office has a kitchen floor of recycled cork; Recology Portland painted their building exterior with recovered paint; and we use various recovered materials and paints for our restoration and volunteer events. And of course, we have art from Recology Artists in Residence throughout.
We regularly implement energy-efficiency upgrades throughout our facilities, like automatic lighting controls, energy efficient water fixtures, and automatic shut-off systems at our truck wash bays.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is used to heat our offices, and CNG also powers many of our trucks, thereby reducing both emissions and noise levels. Our Pier 96 recycling facility is also 30% powered by solar panels.
To better facilitate recycling within our offices, we have labeled bins throughout all of our buildings. Our zero waste on-boarding program also lets new employees know about waste disposal, helping inspire good recycling behaviors from the start.
For employees who commute, we encourage the use of public transportation, shared transport, or bike-riding to work – Eligible employees can pay commuter costs on a pre-tax basis; and, Recology covers 50% of commuter costs up to an allowable maximum.



Recology sees communities as partners. If we don’t work together to determine how to reach zero waste, it simply won’t work.

Every community is unique and faces different challenges when it comes to recycling, compost, and landfill collection. We understand these nuances, so after conducting a thorough waste audit to better understand existing recycling programs, we work with businesses and communities to identify areas for improvement. Our partnerships with municipalities and commercial customers have yielded some of the industry’s greatest diversion successes.

A Case Study with Promontory Point


Apartment Complex
Foster City, CA

WHAT:  A multi-family dwelling with 90 units, totaling three separate buildings
WASTE AUDIT RESULTS:  Recology found that 30% of residents’ organic waste was being placed in landfill carts.
RECOMMENDATION:  Implement and increase organics services, and decrease garbage service. This means providing more green bins, and decreasing the number of black bins.
RESULT:  Landfill service decrease from 60% to 38%, along with their bill!    

2012 Diversion rate: 40%
2016 Diversion rate: 62%

Technologies in waste


As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Our team of engineers and sustainability experts are always searching for new uses for recovered resources. We work together with manufacturers to solve for industry-wide challenges.

Much of our work in waste processing begins with research. We take a three-pronged approach: our environmental engineering team seeks out emerging technologies throughout the world; we create pilot programs to challenge the status quo and find new answers; and we partner with other entities to research and identify new technologies for advanced materials processing.

Are you part of the emerging technology space or want find out about upcoming pilot programs? Contact us.


Some Technologies We Leverage

Optical Sorting


Plastics need to be sorted into “like” plastics before baling, and optical sorting is one of the most efficient and remarkable ways to do so. The technology automatically sorts three common types of plastics with an infrared sensor: hard, clear, and colored. The sensor records the size, shape, structure, and position of the plastic on the sort line, and once identified, it hits the plastic with a strong puff of air, sending it into the correct plastics collection bin.


Negative Aerated Static Pile (ASP) Composting


Good compost needs added air and water. With a Negative ASP System, organic material sits on perforated pipes in open air, which pulls air down from the compost piles, making it easier to control moisture, oxygen, and microbial levels. The air that is pulled from the compost pile is processed through a bio-filter, which absorbs odors and volatile organic compounds.

Check out Recology Organics to buy compost.


Gas from Landfills Becomes Energy


In 2013, Recology teamed up with G2 Energy to install a landfill gas-capture system at Recology Hay Road in Vacaville, CA. This system pulls the methane gas generated by the landfill and turns it into electricity to power homes and businesses nearby. The methane gas that’s pumped from the landfill is sent to an energy conversion facility operated by G2 Energy.

As a result, the methane captured from the landfill is now providing 1.6 megawatts of electricity – Enough to power up to 1,600 homes. This is equivalent to taking about 13,000 cars off the road, planting 14,500 acres of forest or otherwise offsetting consumption of approximately 7.6 million gallons of gasoline.



After we sort and recover resources from the compost and recycling containers, the next step is finding ideal uses for these materials, or commodities. That means finding manufacturers who commit to using our commodities for the best and highest use – those who are using our commodities to create further recyclable goods that will continue the recycling chain.

We’re always looking to build relationships with like-minded commodities partners and manufacturers. Contact us to find out more about recovering resources together.

Commodities Bill Pay

Are you a recycled commodity customer? Login here to pay your bill online.

Are you an organics commodity customer? Login here to pay your bill online.