13 Compelling Reasons to Compost

Posted in Community, Composting, Diversion, Recology, Recycling, Resource Recovery, Waste Reduction, WASTE ZERO by erinatrecology on April 7, 2014

Recology compost programs are designed to return nutrients back to our soils, and essentially back to our dining tables. Composting turns food scraps and yard trimmings into useful materials; the best and highest use of natural resources. 
Recology Compost

  1. Compost is a viable alternative to chemical fertilizers because it adds many nutrients to soil and doesn’t pollute groundwater, wells, or waterways.
  2. Composting keeps organic waste out of landfills, which supports more efficient land use and reduces methane gas emissions, a greenhouse gas.
  3. Compost sequesters carbon deep in the soil, which helps maintain essential nutrients in soil. This is especially useful when compost is used to grow cover crops, like mustard or beans.
  4. Compost promotes healthy microbial activity in soil, which makes micronutrients available to plant roots and discourages soil diseases.
  5. Compost improves soil structure, thereby protecting topsoil from erosion.
  6. Soils fed with compost retain far more rainwater, conserving our water resources.
  7. Compost helps grow plants and food crops that are rich with nutrients needed to sustain good health.
  8. Composting is easy and fulfilling!
  9. Compost collection programs return nutrients to local farms and support green jobs.
  10. Farms that utilize compost achieve higher yields than conventional farming that uses nitrogen fertilizers. This means farms produce more organic fruits and vegetables to support your good health.
  11. Composting reverses the course of waste from decay to new growth, turning coffee grounds, cantaloupe skins, and chicken bones into sweet carrots, juicy tomatoes, and fine wines.
  12. Composting helps our cities get closer to achieving zero waste.
  13. Composting helps California save tremendous amounts of water.

Civicorps and Recology Offers New Hope for Workers in Oakland

Posted in Community, Oakland, Recology, Recycling, Resource Recovery, Services by erinatrecology on January 6, 2014

Civicorps, a non-profit organization located in Oakland, offers job training and career counseling to participants of their Environmental Job Training Program.

Published on on December 30, 2013 by Tom Vacar

William Montoya and Fua Fatai, clients of Oakland’s Civicorps, are learning the skills needed to recycle restaurant wastes.

The food waste they collect in Oakland, currently being composted – will soon go to the Eastbay Municipal Utilities District (MUD) Oakland sewage treatment plant.

“We realized that can recycle kind of these new urban wastes and do it in a way that provides us with renewable energy at the same time,” says Andrea Pook, Eastbay MUD Spokeswoman.

When those food scraps are digested, the methane gas that comes out of them goes into a turbine which can create enough power for 2500 homes.

“At the same time, we develop a product called bio-solid which is the digested solid material and that’s use for agricultural fertilizer as well as alternative cover at landfills,” said Jackie Kepke, Eastbay MUD’s Environmental Services Manager.

For Montoya and Fatai, it’s nothing less than life changing.

“I see this as a stepping stone, you know, and just opening up doors for me in the future. It’s exciting to know that I’m part of something big,” said Fatai.

“This program actually saved me from doing a lot of bad stuff. I focus on my future, my family, my son,” Montoya said.

Civicorps’ Bruce Groulx is proud of this program and these men.

“We take society’s waste, recycle it, as well as recycle young people’s lives,” he said.

They are lives ultimately recycled by the clients’ own self-worth.

Tis the Season… for Recycling and Reuse!

Recology Holiday Recycling

Where does garbage go? (Infographic)

Posted in Composting, Recycling, Resource Recovery by ecotulip on June 28, 2013
Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Recology San Francisco, Art at the Dump Artist in Residence Exhibitions: 
Work by Benjamin Cowden, Ian Treasure and Hannah Quinn

Posted in Events, Recology, Recycling, San Francisco, WASTE ZERO, You Should Know... by art at the dump on May 6, 2013

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Benjamin Cowden, Ian Treasure, and student artist Hannah Quinn on Friday, May 17, from 5-9pm and Saturday, May 18, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, May 21, from 5-7pm. Please note the new Saturday hours and additional Tuesday viewing time. Music will be provided Friday night by dj Joshua Pieper and on Saturday The Insufferables will perform. This exhibition will be the culmination of four months of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse.

Benjamin Cowden: Lunar Cassowaries
The cassowary, a large flightless bird, serves as a point of reference for Benjamin Cowden’s series of kinetic sculptures. Cowden’s works explore motion, flight, and wind-propulsion via unlikely combinations of found materials. Cowden has modified kites, umbrellas, and wind sails to make wing-like forms, but much like the cassowary, these winged creatures don’t leave the ground. They do, however, move or respond to human interaction—often in surprising ways. Cowden has harvested motion sensors from outdoor lights and novelty candles, and in combination with windshield wiper motors, tent poles, fishing reel gears and his own skillfully designed circuits, has created works that not only use, but generate energy.

Cowden explains, “In a society so focused on energy consumption, it seems especially fitting to re-purpose the detritus of that consumption not only into works of art, but into devices which in turn create their own energy.” Cowden’s sculptures also prompt us to think about our relationship to the natural world. The crafting of bird-like forms from the waste stream in turn poses questions about the waste stream’s effects on actual birds and other animals. Assembled together his sculptures appear like residents of a sanctuary for the rarest and most unusual of creatures. But unlike the cassowaries which are truly endangered and whose future is uncertain, these mechanical beings made with objects from the waste stream are here to stay.

Cowden received his MFA in metalsmithing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondate. He is an instructor at the Crucible in Oakland and has been an artist-in-residence at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Cookeville, Tennessee and at Monochrom in Vienna, Austria.

Ian Treasure: Road to Nowhere
Commonplace symbols and objects so ubiquitous in our lives that we hardly give them a second thought are the subject of Ian Treasure’s work. In his sculptures and installations he employs repetitive forms and modern mechanics in tandem with the playful use of time and duration. Works have an anthropomorphic quality, demanding our attention with sounds and movements filled with personality. Humor and surprise are key components, but works also have an element of poignancy and provide space for reflection on the complexities, as well as absurdities, of life.

In Treasure’s Road to Nowhere a small toy taxicab travels on a never-ending journey. Less a feel good road trip than an existential expedition, the taxi rides along a conveyer belt highway, following an infinite dotted line. Unlike a car, symbolic of individual exploration and freedom, the taxicab speaks to relinquishing or losing control of the journey—be it in our own lives or on a larger, societal level. When placed against the backdrop of the dump, it can serve as a metaphor for loss of control over our consumption and its environmental implications. Treasure’s other works include a group of trouble-maker school desks and a liberated drum snare.

Treasure received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and has been an artist-in-residence at the Djarassi Residency Artist Program in Woodside, California. He has participated in exhibitions in London, at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, California.


Hannah Quinn: Beyond the Bower
During her residency Hannah Quinn has created functional works that reference the traditions of craftspeople and home hobbyists, while also exploring utilitarian forms. Quinn has scavenged wood of all kinds—from a skateboard maker’s scraps to legs pulled from old tables and chairs—to play with the shapes of benches, stools, ladders and other simple, yet versatile objects.

A homemade stool has served as the model for Quinn’s own series of stools. Years of wear and repair visible in the old stool point to a time when furniture and household items were not disposable commodities, and illustrate how this basic object functioned within the life of those who used it. Quinn’s stools—50 identical forms out of construction-grade lumber scraps— illustrate the abundances of modern life and pose questions about mass-production vs. the homemade. Her stools also pay tribute to the original object’s maker and caretakers, and act as blank canvases for future lifetimes of use and repair.

Quinn, who is an undergraduate studying furniture design at the California College of the Arts, identifies one of the motivations behind her work as the desire to create objects that promote human interaction. Quinn will also exhibit small found items as scientific specimens, highlighting beloved tools and oddball objects found in the discards from home and professional workshops.

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind program established in 1990 to encourage the conservation of natural resources and instill a greater appreciation for the environment and art in children and adults. Artists work for four months in studio space on site, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public. Over ninety-five professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.

Reception-Friday, May 17, 2013, 5-9pm
Reception-Saturday, May 18, 2013, 1-3pm
Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 5-7pm

Art Studio located at 503 Tunnel Ave. and Environmental Learning Center Gallery at 401 Tunnel Ave., San Francisco, CA

Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible.

Coats for Kids in San Bruno and San Mateo County

Posted in Diversion, Recology, Recycling, San Bruno, San Mateo County, You Should Know... by recologysanmateocounty on October 30, 2012

Donate Your Coats to Kids

It’s time for the annual coat drive throughout the city of San Bruno and San Mateo County.

San Bruno

All month, residents can drop off new and gently used coats—from infant to adult sizes—to donate to those in need of a warm coat during the cold weather season. Recology San Bruno has been holding the Coats for Kids drive all month. October 31st is the last day to participate. The drop-off locations for the coat drive are included on the map below.

The big coat giveaway in San Bruno will take place from 4-7 p.m. on November 15th at the National Guary Armory at 455 Third Ave. Each child is limited to one coat, and the children must be present to receive a coat. Learn more about the Recology San Bruno program here.

San Mateo County

From Monday, November 5th through Friday, November 9th, Recology San Mateo County drivers will collect coats curbside from residential homes on their collection day in Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos and San Mateo. Residents in the participating communities are asked to place coats in a clear plastic bag marked “Coats for Kids” and to then place the bag next to or on the top of their blue Recycle Cart on their regular collection day, during the week of November 5 to 9.

Collection containers labeled “Coats for Kids” will also be placed at various locations throughout participating cities noted above and the Recology San Mateo administrative office where residents can drop off coats. The drop off locations can be used by anyone interested in making a donation, even if their city is not participating in the program this year.

At the end of the drive, Recology will deliver all of the donated coats to local non-profit agencies for distribution to those in need. The Coats for Kids program is held annually by Recology and has hopes of having more communities participate each year. Below is a list of collection sites in San Mateo County.

SF hits 80% diversion on the road to zero waste

A National Record

This morning San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Lee announced that the city of San Francisco reached an 80% landfill waste diversion rate. The city holds the national recycling and compost rate record in North America. And that is no small feat. The city of St. Louis’ recycling rate increased fivefold this year, and that city now diverts just 10%.

We are especially proud. San Francisco’s programs include source reduction, reuse, and recycling and composting programs, which set the city apart from other major North American cities. These programs helped San Francisco receive a perfect score for resource recovery and recycling in the 2011 Siemens Green City Index.

In city’s press release says:

“Recycling and composting is not only good for our environment, it is also good for our economy,” said Mayor Lee. ”Recycling alone creates 10 times more jobs than simply sending refuse to the landfill, and I applaud Recology, the Department of Environment and San Franciscans for reaching this record milestone of 80 percent diversion.”

On the road to Zero Waste


The work is not easy or simple. While landfill disposal has decreased substantially, San Francisco residents, visitors and businesses still send 444 thousand tons of material to landfill each year.

Yet San Francisco is determined to achieve zero waste, not only an environmental, but also an economic goal.

David Chiu, a City Supervisor also supported our work and urged San Franciscans to do their part. He said, “I thank Recology and the Department of Environment staff who are reaching out and educating our residents and businesses to make sure they continue to recycle and compost our way to zero waste.” This weekend, all of the events taking place in the city include forward-thinking plans for recycling and composting.

You can read more of the press release here:

Recology San Mateo County Says Thank You

Posted in Composting, Events, Recology, Recycling, San Mateo County, Waste Reduction by recologysanmateocounty on September 29, 2012

A big THANK YOU to all our Recology San Mateo County volunteers who cleaned up our Bay front and local creeks!

We were glad to spend some quality time with our friends and neighbors on last Saturday during the annual Fall Cleanup and California Coastal Cleanup Day.

This year we focused on removing debris from Redwood Creek, and parts of Brewster Avenue, Marshall Street, the Union Cemetery, Whipple Avenue, Winslow Street, Woodside Road, and other areas.

You can read more about the event here.

We also had a chance to close the loop by making compost available to the communities that put their food scraps and yard trimmings to good use by recycling them!

Plastics Part 7: Polystyrene, expanded polystyrene… you know, your foam cup

Posted in Extended Producer Responsibility, Recycling, You Should Know... by ecotulip on September 23, 2012

Guest blogger, Jessica Connolly of Recology San Mateo County explores plastics and her relationship to them in this series.

Polystyrene (PS) is traditionally known by its more widespread name: Styrofoam. PS can be made into a variety of forms such as expanded PS, which is most prevalent, extruded PS, and foam PS, both of which are less ubiquitous.

Expanded PS is about 95% air and 5% plastic. It is what we know as packing peanuts, packing materials, disposable foam cups and food containers. PS is generally more affordable than other disposable products, making it a desirable container choice for establishments that sell food and beverages. Extruded PS is used in disposable food utensils, DVD and CD cases, disposable razors, and those omnipresent disposable red party cups. PS foam is also used as home and building insulation. In that application, it is injected in between walls, whereupon it expands and seals. It is viewed as a lighter and cheaper material to insulate with and is an alternative to concrete.

Src: Wikipedia

Whatever monetary cost savings it may have, PS is not easy to recycle because of its light weight and low scrap value. Just imagine filling a semi-truck with PS; the little value of the material would be erased by the cost to fuel and drive the truck. With that said, however, other forms of PS are accepted in recycling programs because they have a higher density and a higher scrap value. When PS is recycled, it is usually made into coat hangers, park benches, flower pots, toys, and architectural molding.

PS is too light to accept into our single stream recycling program, but at the San Francisco transfer station, we accept it from residents and businesses for recycling. Recology San Francisco operates a special densifier that condenses loose pieces of Styrofoam into ingots, which are recycled into base boards and moldings. However, our experiment is only a small step. 

PS has several environmental impacts. Due to its weightlessness, PS travels easily by wind and water and pollutes the surrounding environment. Bits and pieces are what remain from an originally large piece, and animals mistake the small pieces of plastic for food, which then enters the food chain. Marine litter is extremely common in the Pacific Ocean (as well as the other oceans) and much of this floating plastic is PS.

Also, the properties of PS do not normally allow it to break down in a traditional landfill. Plastic in general does not  biodegrade, and PS is a prime example. Scientific estimates of decomposition time are high, between 10 thousand and 1 million years. But who knows how long it will actually take, since PS was invented a mere 150 years ago. We can only estimate its actual rate of decomposition.

At this point, because of its environmental impacts, perhaps the most important piece of advice would be to avoid the consumption of this plastic. With all the widespread knowledge about its harm, it’s crucial to determine if using this product is worth it, since humankind and the environment suffer from this plastics’ pollution. Now that you have read this and have become aware, what will you do to make a difference?

San Francisco Dump Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Tamara Albaitis, Amy Wilson Faville, and Calder Yates

Posted in Events, Recology, Recycling, Resource Recovery, San Francisco, You Should Know... by art at the dump on September 6, 2012

San Francisco Dump Artist in Residence Exhibitions:
Work by Tamara Albaitis, Amy Wilson Faville, and Calder Yates

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Tamara Albaitis, Amy Wilson Faville, and student artist Calder Yates on Friday, September 21, from 5-9pm and Saturday, September 22, from 1-5pm. This exhibition will be the culmination of four months of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse. A plant give-a-way will also take place beginning Friday on a first come basis. Plants have been rescued from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area and nursed back to life. Larger plants as well as propagated new starters will be available, one per visitor.

Tamara Albaitis: Dwell
When Tamara Albaitis has spoken to elementary school tour groups during her residency she often has asked, “What is your favorite sound?” Invariably someone will respond with the title of a song, and upon further prompting will understand that they are not being asked exclusively about music, but about the vast auditory experience that surrounds us every moment of every day. How sound figures in our existence can be a complex thing. It is the white noise soundtrack to our lives, but its ubiquity sometimes renders it outside our consciousness. Some people are acutely tuned in, while others hardly ever contemplate it, yet it is a human universal, rich with meaning and associations born deep within our psyches. Albaitis calls attention to this core sensory experience as a way to connect us to our environment and to each other through sculptural sound installations that combine the playful, visceral, primal, and poetic in unexpected ways.

Though Albaitis actually sculpts sound through its placement, movement and repetition, her main physical sculptural medium is speaker cones and wire. She has found these in abundance at the dump and has gathered countless yards of speaker wire and hundreds of discarded home stereo speakers from which she’s extracted the raw cones. Albaitis has crafted a large-scale, cocoon-like form viewers/listeners are invited to enter for an immersive auditory experience, as well as smaller sound sculptures. Reflecting her background in painting and drawing Albaitis uses speaker wire to “draw” on walls, one of many ways she explores the physicality of sound. Other scavenged materials have been incorporated into her work, including fur and leather, appealing to Albaitis for their role as protective skins, and various personal items that have emotional associations. She has also been inspired for the first time to use the speaker boxes she normally discards, stacking them for a sonic cityscape. Audio is drawn from varied sources including a found collection of CDs capturing sounds from space, field recordings of the Recology facility, voice recordings from scavenged cassette and reel to reel tapes, and Albaitis’s own heartbeat.

Explaining her sound installations Albaitis says, “Conceptually, these unfold as questions about sustainability (psychological and environmental), dependence, and the complex relationship between people and nature in a techno-centric culture.” A live performance with Delisa Myles ( will take place during the exhibition receptions, Friday evening at 7:30pm and Saturday afternoon at 3pm.

Albaitis received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, and attended the International Institute of Art in Hangzhou, China where she studied Chinese landscape painting. In 2003 she was invited to establish the first experimental sound department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she received the first MFA in sound art in the United States. She has been a recipient of a Eureka Fellowship and a James Irvine Fellowship and has exhibited nationally and internationally.

Amy Wilson Faville: Everything is Beautiful
During her residency Amy Wilson Faville has continued with a body of work that explores discarded materials. Prior to her residency she was painting public dumping sites in her Oakland neighborhood, and while at Recology she has chosen to work in mixed-media collage, capitalizing on the wealth of items thrown away to make representations of discarded materials from discarded materials. Faville seeks to turn the tables on the refuse—creating something beautiful from the abject—while also posing larger questions about consumption and sustainability. Says Faville, “To me, trash contains both narrative and metaphor. Stories are implied by things that are discarded and abandoned; heaps of cast-off belongings symbolize our economic decline and societal malaise.”

Faville’s working process first involves photographing her subject matter to create reference images for her paintings and collages. She discovered that photographing within the Public Disposal and Recycling Area (the dump) was challenging—objects moved through too rapidly as piles were quickly pushed by front loaders. However, individual piles of materials waiting to be recycled including mattresses, carpet, and damaged recycling and compost bins, sat longer for their photographs, so became the subject of her work. The resulting collage representations are rich with the repetition of form and line found in groupings of multiples. Faville’s titles for her pieces such as Mattress Canyon and Carpet Mountain speak both poetically to the enormity of the subject matter and ironically to its position as the antithesis of anything found in nature.

Faville’s collages combine a range of found materials including 1970s-era wallpaper culled from sample books, colored file folders, fabrics (including mattress ticking cut from her subject matter), and her own drawings. Faville gravitates to the vivid colors and bold patterns prevalent in 60s and 70s textiles, so in her work the dreary and bedraggled become vibrant, as we are invited to take a slightly psychedelic journey through these representations of accumulated objects. Pieced together colors and patterns also suggest quiltmaking, the domestic, and related feelings of comfort and familiarity. Faville will also present an assemblage of collected materials as a three-dimensional collage emerging from a wall of her drawings and other two-dimensional work.

Faville received an MFA and BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been exhibited at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, and Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco, and is in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco and the di Rosa Preserve in Napa. She is a faculty member at Diablo Valley College where she teaches drawing, painting, design, and color theory.


Calder Yates: Corpus Curare
Calder Yates has used the Recology San Francisco facility as a staging ground for video works, drawings, and mixed-media sculptures that explore disruption and precariousness, and the strategies employed in negotiating such conditions. Using lo-fi materials in stripped-down productions, Yates presents situations in need of navigation and efforts that have gone awry. With an undercurrent of implied danger and an often comical poignancy, works probe common feelings of vulnerability and powerlessness.

Gesture and movement are important components of Yates’s work. Previous projects have been participatory, requiring the navigation of chance situations, and while at Recology he has involved facility workers in similar challenges. His choice of mundane objects speaks to their universality while also adding an element of the absurd. Yates addresses the desire to make things better and the sense of futility that often results from our limitations as humans.

Explains Yates, “Specific experiences inform my approach. These include having lived in Florida and witnessing the aftermath of hurricanes and working as a teacher. There is a specific terror in recognizing that your attempts to ameliorate a situation would in fact lead to complicating the problem if not exacerbating the suffering altogether. And that’s what interests me.”

Yates is a graduate student in the sculpture department at the California College of the Arts. He holds a BA in political science and studio art from the New College of Florida. He has exhibited at the Vermont Studio Center and was the APAC Artist in Residence at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida. Yates’s work will be on view at the Recology Environmental Learning Center at 401 Tunnel Avenue.

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind program established in 1990 to encourage the conservation of natural resources and instill a greater appreciation for the environment and art in children and adults. Artists work for four months in studio space on site, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public. Over ninety-five professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.

Reception-Friday, September 21, 2012, 5-9pm
Reception-Saturday, September 22, 2012, 1-5pm
Art Studio located at 503 Tunnel Ave. and Environmental Learning Center Gallery at 401 Tunnel Ave., San Francisco, CA

Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible.


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