Frequently Asked Questions

Recycling

Composting

Trash

Bulky Items

Cart Information

Service Information

Household Hazardous Waste

Electronic Waste

Hard to Recycle Items

Other Information

 

How can I confirm my collection service schedule?

Please 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.

Was my service pickup missed?

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

ATTENT03We recommend that you set bins out by 5:30 AM or the night before your pickup.

Sometimes your garbage will be picked up later due to traffic or route changes.

If the checklist above do not resolve your service issue, please call customer service at (415) 330-1300 with your account number and service address.

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Where can I recycle plastic bags?

In addition to supermarkets, San Francisco residents can now drop off their plastic bags and other film plastic for recycling at:

  1. the Public Disposal and Recycling Area of the SF Dump 
  2. Recycle Central at Pier 96

Weigh masters at these sites can direct customers to specific bins designated for recycling film plastic such as bread bags, shrink wrap and dry-cleaning bags.

ATTENT03Do not mix any other materials, such as paper or hard plastics, with the film plastic. Do not put film plastic in the blue recycling bins at your home or business as film plastics wrap around and clog recycling equipment.

Please continue placing bottles, cans, paper, and hard plastics (such as molded packaging, cups and tubs) in the blue recycling bins.

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What should I do with Styrofoam?

Styrofoam peanuts can be dropped off at many shipping/mail houses (UPS and Mail Boxes, etc.) for reuse. Call first to confirm their take-back policy.

Larger, clean pieces of Styrofoam can be dropped off for recycling at the Recology San Francisco transfer station at 501 Tunnel Avenue. There, a densifier converts Styrofoam into ingots, which can be re-manufactured into door and crown moldings, picture frames, and side and deck board.

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What plastic items are acceptable in my blue cart?

The days of looking for numbers contained in the recycling symbol on plastic containers are over in San Francisco! We have expanded the blue-cart recycling program to accept the following plastic items:

  • 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
  • Broken toys as long as they do not have metal parts, batteries, circuit boards or wiring.

emblem-importantAll materials placed in the blue cart should be clean, without food or liquids.



attentionWe can not accept Styrofoam or plastic film of any kind, such as plastic bags and plastic wrap. Plastic bags and other thin plastic films get tangled in recycling equipment and conveyor belts. Plastic bags also contaminate paper bales and may cause them to be rejected by paper mills, so please DO NOT place plastic bags or other film plastics in your recycling cart. These items should be placed in your black garbage cart.

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How do I recycle materials that can't go in the blue cart?

For a directory of where you can recycle items that don't go in the blue cart (i.e. plastic bags, cell phones, batteries, wire hangers), check whatbin.com or visit the SFEnvironment website.

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Where should I place my carts for service?

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.

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How do I set out extra yard trimmings?

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.

Find locations selling "compostable" bags.

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How do I schedule a Bulky Item Collection appointment?

San Francisco residents can schedule two Bulky Item Collection (BIC) appointments per calendar year by calling Sunset Scavenger at (415) 330-1300 or Recology Golden Gate at: (415) 626-4000.

Call two weeks before you're ready to get rid of your bulky items, and have a list of the items you will be disposing of so the customer service representative can schedule the appropriates trucks to come to your residence.

For program details, visit the Bulky Item Collection and Custom Hauling Service page.

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What should I do with old paint and other hazardous waste?

You can bring your paint, motor oil, and other small amounts of hazardous chemicals to the SF Dump.

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What should I do with my old computer or TV?

Computers can be recycled via the Bulky Item Collection program. They can also be brought to the SF Dump's Public Disposal & Recycling Area, Goodwill and other places around San Francisco.

For more information about recycling centers in San Francisco, visit SFEnvironment.com's recycling directory.

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Where can I recycle cell phones and batteries?

You can recycle cell phones and batteries at the SF Dump, as well as at several other locations. For other locations, visit SFEnvironment.com.

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I recycle and compost almost everything now; I don't need a 32-gallon cart!

Residents who do a good job recycling generate minimal trash, and may be able to save money by reducing their garbage service level.

If your household generates very little garbage, you may be able to utilize the 20-gallon cart service, which can save you about $2.00 per month of your garbage bill.

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I'm afraid that when I put my organic material in the green composting bin, it is going to make a mess. Can I use plastic bags in these carts?

No, the only cart that can be lined with a plastic bag is the black one for garbage. We CANNOT accept recyclables or compostable material in plastic bags. Plastic bags are a big problem for the equipment that processes this material. However, you can line your green and blue carts with newspaper, paper bags, or cardboard.

There are special Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI)-certified bags available to line the composting cart and kitchen pail. Cole Hardware, Rainbow Grocery, Albertsons, Wal-Mart and dozens of other stores carry these BPI certified bags.

Find locations selling "compostable" bags.

Visit the Biodegradable Products Institute for more information about compostable products such as garbage bags.

emblem-importantTIP: A neat and convenient alternative for kitchen waste collection is an empty paper milk carton. Just open the top, fill it with food, fold the top closed when full, and drop it into your green cart for collection.

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What are the dimensions of the of 32, 64, and 96 gallon toter carts?

 

Cart Size Length Width Height
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 32 gallon with the lid 2 inches taller to accommodate a special 20 gallon insert.

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How can I backyard compost?

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.

For information on backyard composting, check out the SFEnvironment.com's, Home Composting website. There are free classes available.

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What time is my garbage picked up?

Pick up times may vary from week to week depending on substitute drivers, traffic, or route changes. Some customers in commercial areas are collected at night, therefore it's important to put your garbage and recycling out the night before so the driver does not miss your carts.

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I recycle everything I can. What else can I do to reduce my garbage?

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Someone is stealing my recyclables. What can I do?

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 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.

You can also report the theft by filling out our online Recycle Theft Form.

attentionFor your safety, do NOT confront the recycling thieves.

 

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I want extra carts for a one-time clean up.

We do not provide additional carts. For further options, contact us at (415) 330-1300.

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How Latex Paint is Recycled

Each day we receive the equivalent of several drums of latex paint from residents. We process it by the end of the day.

  1. We open each can to see if it is in good enough condition to remix and distribute to the public. We do not remix paint that is full of rust or mold or too thick from drying out over the years. (We empty the rusty or moldy paint into drums that eventually get shipped to a cement factory in southern California. Latex is an important ingredient in the manufacturing of cement.)
  2. Next we sort the paint into warm colors and cool colors and pour the paint into separate mixing drums that are equipped with mixing paddles and special motors. The warm colors are in the yellow, red, orange and brown range. The cool colors are in the blue, green, and gray range.
  3. We start the motors and let the paint mix for about 30 minutes. Each 50-gallon batch results in a different shade.
  4. When the paint is mixed to an even color, we pour it into new 5 gallon buckets, number the batch, label the buckets, and put a thumbprint of paint on the lid so you can see what color is inside.

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I'd like to compost in my backyard.  Do you have tips on how to do it?

Food ScrapsRecology 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.

 

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What can I do with the stuff that's hard to recycle?

Where do charcoal, ash, tape, fluorescent bulbs and tubes, and batteries go?

Each city has different programs for handling hard-to-recycle materials.  Follow the links below to learn how to recycle or dispose of:

Still can't find what you're looking for? Visit whatbin.com and search for it there.

whatbin

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What types of materials can I recycle in San Francisco?  What number plastics are recyclable?

In San Francisco, recyclable materials include:

  • Recyclable Plastics ChartGlass (including unbroken clear, green and brown glass containers of all shapes and sizes, wine, soda and milk bottles)
  • Paper, cardboard and wood (including 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, and milk jugs)

In San Francisco, we can accept all plastics except Styrofoam, plastic wrap and plastic bags, however recycling programs vary from place to place. Visit whatbin.com and search for answers to your questions about recycling. 

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 Where can I donate my couch, dresser, or other bulky items?

drawersWe accept appliances, furniture and mattresses, books, clothing, carpets, toilets, and almost all other "bulky" items through our on-call collection program or through Recycle My Junk.

 

  

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I have extra recycling (like lots of cardboard). Can I leave it on the sidewalk instead of in the cart?

Recycling bin-fullIf you have extra cardboard, you may place it in a bin, cardboard box or paper bag next to your blue bin at the curb. The cardboard must be flattened or broken down to a manageable size (2’x2’ max) and bundled. The lid on your bin must be fully closed at pickup.

Additional collection charges may apply. 

The 64-gallon recycling cart can accommodate cardboard. Contact us to change the size of your cart.

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I have more recyclables than will fit in my cart. What should I do?

For those households with large families or who regularly recycle more than 64-gallons 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.

The cardboard must be flattened or broken down to a manageable size (2’x2’ max) and bundled. Additional collection charges may apply.

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What Happens to Alkaline Batteries?

Batteries collected for recycling are brought to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility at Recology San Francisco, sorted, and shipped to companies that specialize in battery recycling. Battery collection and recycling is paid for by S.F. refuse rates.

We ship alkaline batteries to AERC in Hayward, CA. AERC is a licensed facility that recycles universal waste (electronics, fluorescent lamps, batteries).!-- AERC ships the batteries to Kinsbursky Brothers Inc., a transfer storage and disposal facility. Kinsbursky Brothers Inc. is a co-owner of Toxco Inc. Kinsbursky consolidates the batteries into full truckloads and sends the batteries to Toxco Inc.in Trail, British Columbia, Canada, where they are recycled.

Toxco's alkaline battery recycling process is as follows:

  1. The batteries are shredded in a mild acid (the acid neutralizes the caustic electrolyte of the battery).
  2. The ferrous metals are recovered via magnet and gravity. The metals fall to the bottom and are pulled up for recovery via screw conveyor where they are picked up by a magnet and dropped onto a shaker table.
  3. A small percentage of plastic from the end caps of the battery as well as a small amount of paper separator is skimmed from the top of the solution and sent to a Class III Landfill (non-hazardous landfill).
  4. The neutral solution is pressed out of the remaining sludge. This pressed brick is rich in zinc and manganese. Any mercury in older batteries will be in the sludge.
  5. The ferrous metal and the zinc/manganese are sold as raw materials. The ferrous metals are sold on the metals market and the zinc/manganese/mercury is sold to a large smelter that produces several grades of zinc, manganese, lead, and mercury. This is approximately 85 - 90 percent of the battery.

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I have more questions!  Where can I learn more?

Have you visited our Recovered Resource blog?  Write us and post your questions there. 

We're also on Facebook, Twitter, and at your community events

You can always contact us with your questions!

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