FAQ

HOW CAN WE HELP?

Find the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions by selecting a category below.

If you’re unable to locate an answer, contact your local Recology and we’ll be happy to help.

ANSWERS ABOUT SERVICE UPDATES

ANSWERS ABOUT COMPOSTING

No. Many food packaging companies label their bio-based cups or eating utensils as “biodegradable,” but in reality they are neither compostable nor recyclable. These products are blends of bio-based resins and petro resins and, sadly, go to landfill.

On your regular collection day, place your extra yard trimmings next to your green bin in a paper bag, bundled together with string or collected in a Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified compostable bag in a manageable size (2’x2′ max).

The lid on your bin must be fully closed at pickup. Additional collection charges may apply.

Please do not leave food scraps outside of your bin,

If you regularly set out more than 10 extra bundles or boxes each week, please contact us to change the size of your cart.

 

No, plastics are never appropriate for the green compost cart. You can use a paper bag, or a bag labeled “compostable” which is made from plants to line your compost pail.

Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified bags available to line your composting cart or kitchen pail. Cole Hardware, Rainbow Grocery, Albertsons, Wal-Mart and dozens of other stores carry these BPI certified bags. Visit the Biodegradable Products Institute for more information about compostable products, including garbage bags.

Recology is a large-scale composter.  Our technologies and techniques for composting are different than those of backyard composting, but the basics are the same. You need air, water and bugs to turn food scraps and yard trimmings into a valuable soil amendment.

We recommend the EPA’s page “Create Your Own Compost Pile” to learn about backyard composting.

ANSWERS ABOUT FOOD & YARD WASTE

ANSWERS ABOUT FOOD SCRAPS & YARD DEBRIS

ANSWERS ABOUT ORGANICS

ANSWERS ABOUT RECYCLING

Yes; or you can wipe containers with a soiled paper towel or napkin. Please empty all food residue and liquids from your food containers, cans, bottles, and jars before tossing them in your recycling container. For example, if there is a small amount of ketchup remaining in the bottle, give it a quick rinse to ensure you don’t contaminate other recycled paper or plastic products. To conserve water, rinse the containers with sink water after you’ve washed your dishes.

Yes, feel free to leave the lids on bottles when recycling them. Once sent to the appropriate recycling vendors, the different plastics are separated using advanced machinery.

San Franciscans may place the following plastic items in the blue recycling bin:

      • Bottles and bottle caps (OK to leave plastic caps screwed on the bottle)
      • Tubs and lids (i.e., yogurt containers)
      • Cups and lids
      • Clamshells (i.e., “to-go” containers from salad bars and restaurants)
      • Molded packaging
      • Buckets and flowerpots
      • Clean, dry plastic bags inside one clear bag
      • Broken toys as long as they do not have metal parts, batteries, circuit boards or wiring.

All materials placed in the blue cart should be mostly clean, without food or liquids.

      • Purchase products in bulk and that are wrapped with minimal and recyclable packaging.
      • Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. For information on who to contact, go to the SF Environment’s Junk Mail website.
      • Take a free backyard composting class in the community to learn how to turn food waste and yard trimmings into a valuable soil amendment. The City also sells composting bins at a reduced price. You can also buy them year round at Cole Hardware.
      • Reduce material going to our landfills and conserve natural resources by using the reuse and recycling resources listed in the San Francisco Environment’s Recycling Directory.
      • Join our online communities on Facebook and Twitter.

Residential customers with extra recycling may set it out it in a cardboard box or paper bag with their recycle cart. Cardboard must be broken down to a manageable size no greater than 2’x2’x2’. Additional collection charges may apply for material that does not fit into your cart with the lid fully closed. Contact us to change the size of your Recology cart.

Small Business customers, please review the Cardboard Collection Guidelines here.

City and State law prohibit the theft of recyclables. If you see a “thief” taking your recyclables, obtain the vehicle license number, car description, time of the theft, description of the person, direction they were heading and report the theft to the non-emergency Police dispatch office at 415-553-0123. Also, call Sunset Scavenger at (415) 330-1300 or Recology Golden Gate at (415) 626-4000 during business hours to report the theft of recyclables. We will request that the police patrol areas with repeated problems.

For your safety, do NOT confront the recycling thieves.

In San Francisco, recyclable materials include:

      • Glass (including unbroken clear, green and brown glass containers of all shapes and sizes, wine, soda and milk bottles)
      • Paper, cardboard (including empty coffee cups, empty paper milk cartons, office paper, paper bags, soft cover books, phone books, notebooks, envelopes, construction paper, cake mix, cereal and shoe boxes, corrugated cardboard, and empty toilet and paper towel rolls)
      • Ferrous and non-ferrous metals (including aluminum cans and aluminum foil, pie plates, cat food containers, beer, soda, soup and tin cans)
      • Plastic (including water and soda bottles, yogurt containers, laundry detergent bottles, disposable cups, shampoo bottles, milk jugs, and bagged plastic bags)

Residential customers with large families or who regularly recycle more than can fit in their cart each week, please set your extra recyclables next to your blue cart in paper bags or cardboard boxes and they will be removed on your regular recycling day. Additional collection charges may apply.

Residential customers with extra cardboard, please flattened or break down to a manageable size (2’x2’x2′ max) and bundled.

Small Business customers, please review the Cardboard Collection Guidelines here.

ANSWERS ABOUT TRASH

ANSWERS ABOUT HAZARDOUS WASTE

You can drop off your paint, motor oil, and other small amounts of hazardous chemicals to the SF Transfer Station. PaintCare also accepts paint for proper disposal.

Paint is typically recycled and reused whenever possible. All cans are usually inspected to make sure the paint is in good enough condition to remix and reuse. Paint is not remixed if it contains rust, mold, or is too thick from drying out over the years. The collected paint is oftentimes sorted by warm or cool colors, and then poured into mixing drums and re-sealed.

Many times, recycled paint is purchased or donated to local organizations to support cleanup projects for parks or schools.

Fluorescent light bulbs are classified as hazardous waste, and CANNOT be placed in the garbage.

CURBSIDE

Schedule a Recology Bulky Item Recycling pickup for free if you are a resident of San Francisco, and for a small fee for businesses. Residents receive 1-2 free pickups per year. Many Goodwill stores also accept working and non-working electronics.

DROP OFF

Drop off electronic waste at the SF Transfer Station.  You can dispose of up to 30 electronic items per month for free if they are delivered without any other type of material. More than 30 items are charged at a rate of $1.50 per piece. If the electronics are mixed with trash, the regular Recology tipping fee applies.

Fluorescent Lamps
Fluorescents can be disposed of for free at the SF Transfer Station for up to 30 lamps per month per customer. The fee for over 30 lamps per month is $3.00/lamp.

Request a Special Pick Up
Property managers, electrical lighting contractors and other businesses may want to establish a pick up service with fluorescent lamp recycling companies. See recyclewhere.org for a list of companies that can help.

Burnt out, regular incandescent bulbs are non-recyclable and go in the landfill Recology cart.

Fluorescents Drop off Locations Throughout San Francisco:
Fluorescent lamps from residents may be dropped off at neighborhood drop-of sites established by the City. All of these sites only accept fluorescent tubes and compact “curly cue” fluorescent bulbs. For a list of sites, visit recyclewhere.org.

Drop off medications for safe handling at any San Francisco police station and select pharmacies. Visit www.sfenvironment.org/medicinedisposal for a full list of medication drop-off locations.

Federal Drug Enforcement Administration rules do not allow us to accept medicine at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility or through our Door-to-Door HHW collection programs.

Residential Curbside Pickup
If you have a number of items, you may schedule a free pick-up by calling customer service: (415) 330-1405. You’ll be asked to describe the types and amounts of the household hazardous waste you have for pickup.

  • Pickups are available from Wednesdays – Saturdays, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM.
  • Hazardous waste containers cannot be left outside on the sidewalk, so you must be home.
  • Priority is given to disabled and elderly residents who do not drive.

We are not currently able to pick up unknown or unlabeled wastes. If you have unknown chemicals, please let us know when you call so we can advise.

Business Very Small Quantity Generator Program (VSQG)
If your San Francisco-based business generates a small amount of hazardous waste (less than 220 pounds per month, or 27 gallons), you may dispose of it through the Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQG) Program. For more information, please click on the tab below.

ANSWERS ABOUT SPECIALTY ITEMS

Large blocks of clean Styrofoam can be dropped off for recycling at the Recology San Francisco Transfer Station at 501 Tunnel Avenue in San Francisco. Our densifier converts Styrofoam into ingots, which can be re-manufactured into door and crown moldings, picture frames, and side and deck board.

Residential customers receive two curbside Bulky Item Recycling collections per year at no additional charge. Apartment dwellers receive one no-charge curbside collection.

If you exceed your number of free pickups, you may request additional Recology collections for a fee. Once you’ve scheduled pickup, place your items next to the curb near your residence by 6am on the day of your appointment and attach a sign that reads “Recology”.

San Francisco residents can schedule a collection by submitting a Bulky Item Recycling Form.

Please call at least two weeks before you’re ready to get rid of your bulky items.

For program details, visit the Bulky Item Recycling page.

Computers can be recycled via the Bulky Item Recycling Program. They can also be brought to the SF Transfer Station’s Public Disposal & Recycling Area, Goodwill and other places around San Francisco.

For more information about recycling centers in San Francisco, visit SF Environment’s recycling directory.

We accept appliances, furniture and mattresses, books, clothing, carpets, toilets, and almost all other “bulky” items through the Bulky Item Recycling program.

Recology offers curbside holiday tree collection each year from January 2nd – January 14th.  Please remove all tinsel, lights, decorations and stands from your holiday tree, and place it next to your collection bins, or at the designated area determined by your property manager.

You don’t. You take them back next time you go to the dry cleaners. That’s reuse which is even better than recycling. Please do not put wire or plastic hangers in your blue recycling bin; hangers jam equipment at the recycling plant. Recycling bins are for bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, and hard plastics, such as plastic cups and molded plastic packaging.

Please submit request here: Abandoned Waste

ANSWERS ABOUT CARTS & COLLECTION

Although we do not provide additional residential bins, you may schedule a debris box drop-off/pick-up with your Recology company up for large cleanups. (Debris box information can be found under the All Services tab.)

Rain, wind, and snow might delay us by a few hours, depending on the severity. If extreme weather conditions make it unsafe for our drivers to service your bins, we will collect materials on the first day that regular service resumes.

Yes; Recology provides special services to residents who are physically unable to set their bins near the curb for collection. Please call your local Recology company for assistance.

Check your collection day using the calendar tool, or contact our customer service department if you need to double-check your regularly-scheduled trash, recycling, and compost collection schedule. Use the contact form or call us at (415) 330-1300.

Our drivers work every holiday except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. We print a special holiday schedule on this site and in our customer newsletter.

If you believe that your trash, recycling or compost was not collected as scheduled, please confirm the following:

        • You have the right service schedule for your address
        • You have not moved to a new address
        • The area where you place your carts is accessible
        • The cart is on the sidewalk at the curb
        • There is no vehicle blocking entry to the driveway
        • There is no debris box blocking access to the carts
        • The lids are closed
        • The bins set out early enough

We recommend that you set bins out the night before your pickup.  Sometimes your garbage will be picked up later due to traffic or route changes.

If we missed your bins, contact our Customer Service team at customerservice@recologySF.com to let us know.  Please include information about which bins were missed.  Example: 32-gallon black or blue bin.

Both residents and businesses should place their carts as close to the street curb as possible. This helps drivers collect your garbage and recyclables as efficiently as possible and help keep your disposal costs down. We realize that at some households, setting carts at the curb is not practical and we will work with those residents to develop an alternative service location.

Cart Size Length Width Height
16 gallon 23.75″ 18.50″ 36.50″
32 gallon 24.50″ 19.00″ 38.25″
64 gallon 31.50″ 24.00″ 41.50″
96 gallon 35.00″ 27.25″ 44.50″
20 gallon  (same as a 32 gallon cart, with the lid 2 inches taller to accommodate a special 20 gallon insert)

 

Residential customers with extra recycling may set it out it in a cardboard box or paper bag with their recycle cart. Cardboard must be broken down to a manageable size no greater than 2’x2’x2’. Additional collection charges may apply for material that does not fit into your cart with the lid fully closed. Contact us to change the size of your Recology cart.

Small Business customers, please review the Cardboard Collection Guidelines here.

Residential customers with large families or who regularly recycle more than can fit in their cart each week, please set your extra recyclables next to your blue cart in paper bags or cardboard boxes and they will be removed on your regular recycling day. Additional collection charges may apply.

Residential customers with extra cardboard, please flattened or break down to a manageable size (2’x2’x2′ max) and bundled.

Small Business customers, please review the Cardboard Collection Guidelines here.

Recology charges a fee of $121 per container to clean or replace collection bins.

We recommend that customers power wash containers if possible, or search for local options for cleaning services.  We are unable to exchange bins unless they are beyond repair or broken.

Recology drivers use discretion when collecting extra materials. Any material that does not fit inside your three collection containers is subject to additional charges for collection.

We recommend contacting our Customer Service team at customerservice@recologySF.com to notify us when you have extras so that we may tell the driver in advance.  Maximum collection of extra bags/bundles includes 10 per pickup per material stream.

No, city ordinance requires that trash/recycle/compost is serviced a minimum of once per week for all accounts.

Pick up times may vary from week to week depending on driver schedules, traffic, and route changes. Some customers in commercial areas receive collection at night, therefore it’s important to put your garbage and recycling out the night before your service day so the driver does not miss your bins.

We recommend pulling bins in soon after they have been collected.

Black landfill bins are being replaced with grey bins.  Black bins will be phased out.

ANSWERS ABOUT DEBRIS BOX CONTAINERS

ANSWERS ABOUT SERVICES

Residents who generate minimal garbage, or landfill bound materials be able to save money by reducing their garbage service level. Call your Recology company to see how they can “right size” your service based on material type and volume.

First, notify our Customer Service team by emailing customerservice@recologysf.com.  Please include information about the anticipated amount of extra compost material.  Then, use compostable bags to contain the material and place it next to your collection bin on your normal collection day.

Sometimes Recology drivers provide service to multiple customers without moving their collection truck. It usually takes a driver longer to collect material from customers who pay for service inside of their residence due to flights of stairs, hauling material a longer distance, and collecting mutliple bins per residence.  Drivers may be required to collect multiple inside service accounts on a given block.

We try our best to accommodate the needs of San Francisco citizens by making adjustments to collection schedules when possible. When submitting a noise complaint, information such as time of collection, description of the truck (truck #), and the service address(es), may improve our attempt to remedy the situation.

All Recology trucks operate under the permitted 75 dBA. per the SFDPH 4.2 Police Code Article 29, Section 2904, Waste Disposal Services, which states, “There are no limits on noise associated with refuse truck operation, such as noise from crushing, compacting, dropping, or moving waste…It is often necessary that these trucks operate early in the morning on very specific routes that may not be adjustable”.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to provide vital waste collection services.

Recology trucks provide collection services for many distinct commodities (garbage, recycle, compost, hazardous waste, abandoned waste, etc.).  One truck may arrive on your block to collect garbage materials, while another is collecting recyclable materials.  Customers may have multiple service days throughout the week to accommodate collection of all commodities.

ANSWERS ABOUT MY ACCOUNT & BILLING

Payment Options

  • Pay online by credit or debit card
  • Enroll in online bill pay to set up automatic payments from your checking or savings account
  • Pay over the phone by calling customer service at 415.330.1300 (we accept Mastercard, Visa, or Discover)
  • Pay by check (mailed to Recology at 250 Executive Park Blvd.Suite 2100, San Francisco, CA 94134)
  • Pay in person by stopping by our office at 250 Executive Park Blvd.Suite 2100, San Francisco, CA 94134

Create Account
You can create a Recology online account to make electronic payment, and view your account information. To create an online account, you will need your Recology customer account number.  Please customer service at 415.330.1300 if you need this information.

Once you have this information, follow these simple steps to set up your online account:

1. Visit the “Pay My Bill” page.

2. Select “Enroll in EBill Pay” for the appropriate Recology company.

3. Register your account:
Fill in your information and ensure that all contact information is correct.

4. Login:
You can now return to the login page and use your newly registered username and password to login to your account.

San Francisco customers may select from several different garbage container sizes and save money by recycling and composting more.

View San Francisco residential rates.

Need a large container? Learn more about drop box services.

Lockbox refers to our receipt of your last payment at our payment processing center located in Los Angeles. It does not mean a charge for a lockbox.

Each unit is allowed up to 32-gallons of landfill material, charged using normal service rates. After a customer reaches the 32-gallon limit, each additional 32-gallons is charged a premium fee in the form of an “excess trash fee”.

There are no premiums charged for larger blue/recycle or green/compost containers.

Residential and Apartment accounts are not subject to late fees; however, delinquent accounts may be subject to a potential lien against the property.

No, payments made by credit card (online or over the phone) are not assessed fees.

Closing your online Recology account means that you have disabled your online access and any existing autopay.  Your account is still active.  Please  email Customer Service for further assistance to close out your account at customerservice@recologySF.com.

If your service location already has bins that fit your needs, please continue to use them. If you are missing any bins, contact our Customer Service team so that we can schedule a delivery of the missing bins.

Email us at customerservice@recologySF.com.

Yes. Please notify us at least 2 weeks prior to the date you wish to place the account on hold. Residential customers may place an account on hold up for up to three months.  Customers are still responsible for paying the monthly dwelling and $10 fee for placing the account on hold.

Contact us at customerservice@recologySF.com.

Yes.  Recology can place business accounts on hold (month-to-month basis).  Account holders must notify Recology in advance. Contact us at customerservice@recologySF.com.

ANSWERS ABOUT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

Residential customers receive two curbside Bulky Item Recycling collections per year at no additional charge, while apartment dwellers receive one no-charge curbside collection. If you exceed your number of free pickups, you may request additional Recology collections for a fee. Once you’ve scheduled your pickup, please place your items next to the curb near your residence by 6am on the day of your appointment and attach a sign that reads “Recology”.

San Francisco residents and tenants can schedule a collection at their address by submitting a Bulky Item Recycling Form, or by calling (415) 330-1300. Please call at least two weeks before you’re ready to get rid of your bulky items.

For program details, visit the Bulky Item Recycling page.

Our Waste Zero Team is here for you! Contact us to speak with a Waste Zero Specialist who will train your staff or tenants, provide signage and resources, and place recycling containers for convenience.

Visit the Sorting Guides and Signage page for printed materials, or call customer service for special signage designed for your building.

Let us know you need a battery bucket and we’ll deliver a bucket, informational poster, and postcards for you to distribute to your tenants notifying them of the program. When the bucket is full, anyone can call the number on the bucket for a free pickup. Download the apartment/condo battery recycling poster.

If a property you own is vacant, please contact customer service to request a stop or reduction in collection service, unless the unit will be reoccupied within 60 days. The Customer Service Representative will ask that you provide a copy of your two most recent PG&E and water bill via US Mail or by emailing copies to Customerservice@recologysf.com. If the utility bills show little to no usage, Recology will document the address as vacant in our database. Verification of vacancy will be performed periodically.

For apartment customers (buildings with six units of more), the property owner is responsible for all unit charges regardless of whether all units in the building are occupied. For residential multi-family customers (five units or less), the property owner is responsible for all unit charges unless verification of vacancy can be evidenced through the two most recent PG&E and water bills

If the number of units in your building has changed, please contact the San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco Building Department and City & County of San Francisco’s Assessor-Recorder to have your property records updated. Once the records have been updated and evidence of the change has been provided, your account will be updated and a credit for the unit charge will be provided from the date the property records were changed.

All occupied San Francisco commercial and residential dwellings are required to subscribe to refuse collection services. If you have not notified Recology of vacancy, failure to pay for licensed refuse collection service shall result in a lien placed against the property by the San Francisco Department of Public Health, with the property owner responsible for all costs. To avoid any fees, please contact us.

For more information, regarding the San Francisco Mandatory Refuse Ordinance please visit the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Please note: Single-family home customers are allowed to place their account on vacation hold once a year for up to three months. Customers must notify Recology of the suspension and restart dates before start of suspension. Base (unit) charges are not credited and an administrative fee of $10 is charged to restart service after suspension.