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Recycling and Composting in San Francisco - FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Recycling and Composting in San Francisco

Everyone in San Francisco is required to keep their recyclables, compostables, and trash separate. Find out about recycling and composting requirements for San Francisco residents, businesses, and event organizers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is San Francisco’s mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?
  2. How do I meet the requirements of the San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?
  3. Do I have to pay extra for recycling or composting service?
  4. Will I get fined if my tenants do not recycle or compost properly?
  5. Will composting be messy or smelly?
  6. What if I don’t have much compost – can I put my kitchen pail on the curb for collection?
  7. How do I get recycling and composting service at my building?
  8. If I cannot physically move the blue, green, and black bins, how can I get support moving the bins to the curb on collection day? 
  9. Where can I learn more about the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?

What is San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?

San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance requires San Francisco residents and businesses to properly separate recyclables and compostables and keep them out of the landfill. Learn more about San Francisco's Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance (PDF).

How do I meet the requirements of the San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?

  1. Contact Recology at (415) 330-1300  to order service and receive recycling, composting, and landfill bins.
    • Property owners and managers must provide color-coded containers for tenants, employees, contractors, and customers to ensure separation of discards.
    • Residents can choose to compost at home and take recyclables to appropriate recycling centers.
  2. Participate by putting recyclables in the blue bin and compostables in the green bin.
  3. Find reuse, recycling, and safe disposal options for everything from electronics to couches.

Do I have to pay extra for recycling or composting service?

San Francisco residents receive recycling and composting service with landfill service at a flat rate. Apartment buildings (6 units or more) and businesses pay a reduced rate for recycling and composting service. When residents and businesses recycle and compost everything correctly, they can reduce landfill service and save money.

  • Residents can reduce their landfill service from a standard 32-gallon bin to a 20-gallon bin.
  • Businesses can save up to 75% off the variable costs of the refuse bill by reducing the size of their landfill bin or frequency of pick-up.

Will I get fined if my tenants do not recycle or compost properly?

Building owners will be fined if they fail to provide tenants with adequate blue, green, and black bin service and information on their proper use.

Will composting be messy or smelly?

Collecting compostables should not be any more messy or smelly than putting food scraps in your trash. The same materials are being collected – just in a different container.

What if I don’t have much compost – can I put my kitchen pail on the curb for collection?

Compost must be placed in Recology’s curbside green bin for efficient curbside collection. 

How do I get recycling and composting service at my building?

Renters can call their property managers and inform them about the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance. Has your property owner or manager declined to provide recycling and composting services? Fill out a request to have SF Environment's Zero Waste team follow up with your landlord or propery manager.

If I cannot physically move the blue, green, and black bins, how can I get support moving the bins to the curb on collection day?

For disabled residents, Recology will collect all three carts from inside locations at no additional distance fee or key charge. Contact Recology at (415) 330-1300 to apply for a special rate for disabled residents

Where can I learn more about the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?

To learn more about the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance, contact SF Environment at (415) 355-3700. SF Environment offers recycling and composting resources for residents and businesses:

  • Trainings
  • Sample letters notifying tenants of new programs
  • Signage and posters
  • Stickers for bins
  • Door-to-door multilingual outreach

Related Content

Ordinance Information 
Factsheet on San Francisco’s mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance (PDF, 1 page)
San Francisco's goal of zero waste by 2020
Recycling and Composting Ordinance (PDF, 27 pages)

Residents
Recycle & Compost
Now that single-use plastic bags are banned, what should I use to line my bins?
RecycleWhere? - Find out where to reuse or recycle items according to the highest and best use.

Businesses
Recycling and Composting Ordinance
Zero Waste toolkit for successful participation - Signs and flyers, training resources, videos, case studies
RecycleWhere? - Find out where to reuse or recycle items according to the highest and best use.

 

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