San Francisco Department of the Environment

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How to Recycle and Compost

Put items in the right bin with these recycling and composting guidelines. 

Recycle  /  Compost  /  Safely Dispose  /  Landfill  /  Give Away


Recycle plastic, metal, glass, and paper. Empty containers prior to recycling. 

  • Plastic: rigid and hard plastics only (empty buckets, cups, yogurt containers)

  • Metal: cans, tins, party trays, aluminum foil

  • Glass: bottles, jars (no bakeware, glassware, or dishware)

  • Paper: junk mail, cardboard, newspaper, magazines. Put shredded paper in a paper bag, staple it closed, and label it "shredded paper"



Compostable items include food, food-soiled paper, and anything that was once alive. 

  • Food: all food scraps, trimmings and spoiled leftovers

  • Plant trimmings: leaves, flowers, and weeds

  • Soiled paper products: used paper napkins and towels, plates, coffee cups, coated paper cartons (milk and juice), and paper to-go containers

Safely dispose graphic of

Safely Dispose

Search on ​RecycleWhere to find out how to dispose of just about anything.

Visit Recology for a list of additional items of what goes in which bin: Residential, Business.


Some materials are difficult to recycle or compost and for now, must be landfilled. 

  • Mylar film: chip bags, candy wrappers and other mylar film

  • Aseptic containers: multi-material packaging such as broth and juice boxes (Tetra-paks)

  • Special glass: glass dishware, bakeware and auto glass

  • Ceramics 

Give Away

Donate unwanted items: clothing, appliances, furniture

Bulky Items: couches, TVs, monitors

Search on RecycleWhere for alternatives to landfilling items:


Related Content

Tools and resources

Recycling & Composting Requirements for Residents
How do I start composting in my kitchen?
Zero Waste Toolkit for Households and Tenants
Recycling and Composting in San Francisco - FAQs 
Myths about Recycling in San Francisco
Zero Waste Your Party

How do I get rid of...

Are plastic bags and plastic wrap recyclable in San Francisco?
How do I know if a utensil, cup, or plate is compostable in San Francisco?
How do I recycle specialty gift wrap like tissue paper or shiny wrapping paper?

Prevent Waste

How do I stop unwanted handbills on my property?
I already recycle and compost. How else can I reduce waste?


Make your own compost, recycle, and landfill signs (interactive tool)
Compost, Recycle, Landfill pamphlet (tri-fold 6- page PDF)
Compost, Recycle, and Landfill posters (PDF)
Recycling, Composting and Landfill Fliers (PDF)
Ways to Collect Compost postcard (PDF)
Wonder what to do with this stuff? (PDF)

Apartment Trash Chute Poster (PDF)
Space Waiver Form (PDF)

Additional Resources

Requirements for Storing Refuse Bins (Department of Public Works)
Recology's RecycleMyJunk service
Where does recycling go? (Video, Bay Curious/KQED News)

Cómo reciclar y compostar (Español)
如何回收和堆肥 (中文)
Kung Paano Mag-recycle at Mag-compost (Filipino)


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