San Francisco Environment Department

San Francisco’s Blue Bins Open Wide

Photo: Mason Trinca, Special to the Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO, October 5, 2017 – The San Francisco Department of Environment and Recology announced today the most significant changes to the City’s recycling program since it was launched in 2000. The City’s “Fantastic Three” bin system for recyclables, compostables and landfill-bound material has been updated to allow San Franciscans to recycle more than ever.

To help San Francisco move closer to zero waste, the following items are now welcome in the blue recycling bin:

  • Empty paper cups (e.g., coffee cups, including sleeve and plastic lid)
  • Empty paper cartons (e.g., milk cartons, juice boxes, ice cream containers)
  • Plastic bags and wrap (e.g., bubble wrap, shrink wrap) – must be contained in a plastic bag before putting in blue bin

“While we have made tremendous progress toward reducing waste, we must keep up the momentum and try to do even more,” said Board of Supervisors President London Breed. “The people of San Francisco are committed to zero waste, and these recycling changes represent another giant step forward in our history of environmental stewardship.”

The new materials update is effective immediately and coincides with new standard bin sizes and informational signage from Recology. New residential bins include a 16-gallon waste bin (smaller black), a 64-gallon recycling bin (larger blue) and a 32-gallon composting bin (same-size green). The new bins and signage have been introduced in the Sunset District and will roll out across the city over the next two years.

“Through collective action, we can strengthen our reputation as an environmental leader, and I believe San Franciscans will seize the opportunity,” said Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the Sunset. “I'm excited that Sunset residents get to be the first to experience the program changes. Now it is even easier to reduce waste and protect the planet.”

San Francisco has led the nation in waste reduction for decades – it was the first U.S. city to offer curbside composting collection and the first to ban plastic bags. Residents and businesses have embraced the City’s recycling culture and have dramatically increased the amount of recyclable and compostable material collected daily. This new initiative will make it possible for residents and businesses to recycle more and minimize waste.

“Since we rolled out curbside recycling and composting over 15 years ago, we have been committed to making it convenient, easy, and accessible for all San Franciscans,” said Debbie Raphael, Director of San Francisco Department of Environment. “Today, we are asking San Franciscans to join us, once again, in doing their part to help us reduce waste, reuse what they can, and recycle and compost even more.”

San Francisco has made significant progress in reducing waste sent to landfill over the last 15 years; however, recycling is a process of continuous improvement. Further changes will be necessary in the future as the City moves toward zero waste.

“Recology has invested in infrastructure, local labor and innovation to expand the range of materials we can recycle,” said Paul Giusti, Community and Government Affairs Manager at Recology. “It’s a serious investment in the City’s continuing commitment to achieve zero waste and our commitment to changing our industry into resource recovery.”

Complete details about the changes are available online at For more information about San Francisco’s zero waste policies and programs, visit

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The San Francisco Department of Environment provides solutions that advance climate protection and enhance quality of life for all San Franciscans. The Department’s award winning Zero Waste program provides education and outreach to residents and businesses about San Francisco’s zero waste policies and programs.

Recology is San Francisco’s recycling and composting collection company. Based in San Francisco, it is 100 percent employee owned.

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