Recology San Mateo County Ugly Holiday Sweater Photo Contest

Posted in Uncategorized by ErinAtRecology on December 10, 2014

Recology San Mateo County

Win a $100 VISA gift card and add to your holiday wardrobe!

Share a photo of yourself, family, or friends wearing an ugly holiday sweater on the Recology San Mateo County Facebook page and “like” Recology San Mateo County for a chance to win.

There will be two winners: the photo voted “best ugly holiday sweater” by Recology SMC employee-owners and the photo with the most likes will be announced Monday, Dec 22nd.

Winners will be contacted via Facebook (please check your “others” inbox folder). Winners will also be featured on Recology San Mateo County’s Facebook page.

  •  Must be 18 years or older to participate, and be a customer of Recology San Mateo County. Recology employees are not eligible.
  •  This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. By entering this contest, you agree to a complete release of Facebook from any and all liability in connection with this giveaway. All entries will become the property of Recology Inc.

Artist in Residence Program Announces 2015 Residency Recipients

Posted in Diversion, Recycling, San Francisco, You Should Know... by art at the dump on December 9, 2014

Recology San Francisco is pleased to announce recipients of artist residencies for 2015. The six selected artists are Michael Arcega, Jeremiah Barber, Ma Li, Jenny Odell, Alison Pebworth, and Chris Sollars.

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind initiative started in 1990 to support Bay Area artists, while also teaching children and adults about recycling and resource conservation. Artists work for four months in a studio on site and use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area. Over one-hundred professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.

Michael Arcega and Ma Li
Residency: February-May; Exhibition reception: May 22 and 23, 2015

As an interdisciplinary artist, Michael Arcega works across media to create art that is informed by language, history, and geography. In his most recent work he has adopted methodologies used in the anthropological study of world cultures that often emphasize “otherness,” but Arcega turns the tables, positioning North America as ‘the other” whose symbols and rituals must be studied and understood. Though a socio-political critique, Arcega’s work also has a playful element, providing familiar entry points to alternative ways of thinking about the people who colonize the landscape. Arcega is an Assistant Professor of Art at San Francisco State University. He received an MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2012, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been exhibited at the Asia Society in New York, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Honolulu Academy of Art, and the Orange Country Museum of Art in Newport Beach.
Ma Li uses non-traditional art media and discarded materials to create sculpture and installations. Her dream-like, large-scale, frequently suspended forms reference her Chinese heritage and often appear like temples, lanterns, or ceremonial architecture. But titles of works, such as Retrofuture City and 633 Hours to Intergalactica!, in combination with her materials that include vividly-colored plastics, lights, and mylar, speak to the meeting of tradition and pop culture; the ordinary and the fantastic; and the hand-made and mass-produced. She describes her works as “imbued with a sense of a celebration and a reminiscence of identity: from a woman in a collective society to a citizen of the planet.” Ma received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Shanghai Dong Hua University. In 2014, she was the recipient of a Pollack-Krasner Foundation Fellowship. She is also the recipient of a Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Art Award and a Knight Foundation Finalist Grant. She has exhibited at SOMArts, Root Division, and Swell Gallery in San Francisco, and has been an artist in residence at the Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina and the Vermont Studio Center.

Jenny Odell and Chris Sollars
Residency: June-September; Exhibition reception: September 18 and 19, 2015

Jenny Odell uses found imagery from sources such as Google Maps to create “portraits” of systems ranging from waste-water treatment plants to popular web searches. She has located satellite images of the factories world-wide where all the items she wore, ate or bought over the course of one day were produced, and has gathered aerial photos of 97 nuclear cooling towers together in a single image that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is disturbingly fascinating. Her work makes visible infrastructures and sources of production that play a role in our daily lives, but which are often hidden. She describes herself as “not so much a photographer as a collector.” Odell received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA from the University of California at Berkeley. She is the recipient of a San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant, and has exhibited at Intersection for the Arts, White Walls, and SOMArts in San Francisco, and in New York, Paris, and Barcelona. Her work has been featured in The EconomistWIREDFrieze, and The Atlantic.
Chris Sollars’ art involves the reclamation and subversion of public space through interventions and performance. His work can be experienced in two ways—through the witnessing of, or participation in, a performative event, or later viewing the documentation of the event in a gallery context via installations that combine photography, video, and sculpture. Sollars’ process is physical and conceptual as he juxtaposes dissimilar elements to create unexpected forms that are often comedic. Sollars received an MFA from Bard College and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2013, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has received a San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Commission Grant, a Eureka Fellowship Award, Artadia Grant, Headlands Center for the Arts Residency, and has exhibited in venues nationally and internationally. His work is in the permanent collection of the Berkeley Art Museum and his Left Behind sculpture series was most recently published by Publication Studio in 2013.

Jeremiah Barber and Alison Pebworth
Residency: October-January; Exhibition reception: January 22 and 23, 2016

Working in performance, video, sculpture, and installation, Jeremiah Barber explores ideas of transcendence, as well as perseverance, memory, and personal mythologies. Using his own body in performances that have incorporated elements such as fire, water and smoke, Barber investigates the realms of both the physical and the metaphysical. Though elegantly minimal in their execution, his attempts at near-impossible actions also include humor and illuminate the absurdity and wonder at the core of what it means to be human. Barber received an MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from Columbia College in Chicago. He is the recipient of a Eureka Fellowship, a San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant, and from 2005-07 was an exhibiting member of Marina Abramovic’s independent performance group. He has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and in the Bay Area at Southern Exposure, SOMArts, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and The Lab.
Alison Pebworth explores aspects of contemporary life and culture using the tropes and traditions of an earlier America through projects such as her Beautiful Possibility tour in which she traveled to 25 venues across the United States and Canada. Her work is equal parts social practice, public performance, and fine art exhibition, and harkens back to a time of traveling performers and sideshow curiosities. Pebworth’s projects are often long-range and involve the gathering of data to bring to light the ailments of our sped up, high tech world, for which she provides metaphorical (and sometimes actual) elixirs. Pebworth is the recipient of Artist Grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Center for Cultural Innovation and has been an artist-in-residence at numerous institutions including Ucross Foundation, Claremont, WY and the de Young Museum. She has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, the Salt Lake Art Center, in Salt Lake City, and in the Bay Area at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure and Headlands Center for the Arts. Her work is included in Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City.

Recology Donates Organic Produce to GLIDE Memorial Church; grown with city compost

Posted in Community, Composting, Diversion, Recology by ErinAtRecology on November 21, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO: Today GLIDE Memorial Church on Ellis Street received a unique donation – a Recology truckload of fresh, organic produce grown with compost made from food scraps and plant cuttings collected in the City. Recology is San Francisco’s recycling and compost collection company.

“We are pleased to help kick off the Season of Sharing with this donation of healthy, organic food to GLIDE, which provides critical assistance to the needy in our community. We encourage everyone to take steps to help those less fortunate then ourselves,” said Mark Arsenault, San Francisco Group Manager for Recology. “Also we encourage residents and businesses, such as restaurants, to compost all food scraps especially during the holidays, the biggest food weeks of the year.”

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(Photos courtesy of Supervisor Jane Kim)
Janice Mirikitani, Founding President of the GLIDE Foundation, said “We are thankful to Recology, not only for this wonderful bounty of fresh, organic produce that will help nourish souls this Thanksgiving, but for encouraging folks to get involved and help others in need this holiday season. We hope San Francisco residents will be reminded to be responsible beyond themselves and care for their communities and do what they can to help those in need and be inspired in their daily actions and activities.”

Supervisor Jane Kim said “I am pleased to help raise awareness of the need for donations of food and money to GLIDE and other care providers in the Tenderloin. Because of the hard work done by of organizations like GLIDE our homeless and poor citizens can receive something many of us take for granted, a hot meal served with a warm smile by people who care.”

The produce donated today includes cases of: butternut squash, collard greens, cabbage, kale, and sweet potatoes. The locally-sourced vegetables were grown at EatWell Farm located in Dixon. For 10 years EatWell has applied compost made from food scraps and plants collected in San Francisco’s urban compost collection program.

A 30-year study from the Rodale Institute, the nation’s oldest agriculture institute, shows that farms that apply compost achieve higher yields in years of drought compared to those using synthetic fertilizers. Therefore composting more of our food scraps and applying the compost to farms presents a way to grow additional food to help feed all people.

This year the employee-owners at Recology constructed gardens at the compost facilities the company operates, and grew more than 1,900 pounds of produce. They donated that harvest to local food banks. We hope to double that amount in 2015 and encourage other cities and universities that are replicating San Francisco’s compost collection program to do the same.

Roland Breland & Harry Garay at Glide today, Nov. 19.glide

Media contact:
Robert Reed
Recology spokesman
cell: (415) 606 9183

California Passes Progressive Organics Recycling Bill

Posted in Composting, Diversion, Policy, Resource Recovery, Waste Reduction by ErinAtRecology on November 17, 2014

recology commercial compost
The last few months proved to be significant for California’s environmentalists and waste & recycling industry alike. In addition to signing SB 270, the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1826 (Chesbro), requiring commercial businesses to begin recycling organics.

According to Assembly Bill 1826, organics include “food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste.” By spring 2016, restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial food and yard waste producers generating at least 8 cubic yards of organics per week will be required to separate their organics and properly send the materials to an organics processing facility.

Most notably, the move towards large-scale organics recycling will reduce the amount of food scraps and yard waste headed to landfills, and increase materials headed for anaerobic digestion and composting facilities. The influx of organic materials to processing facilities will be converted to renewable energy through anaerobic digestion, or composted for use on local farms.

By signing AB 1826…Governor Brown ensured that all of California shares in the environmental, agricultural, and economic benefits of organics recycling with reduced local emissions of greenhouse gases, new jobs and valuable compost for our farms and vineyards – Mike Sangiacomo, President & CEO, Recology

Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro adds, “Landfilled food and other organic materials produce methane, a major contributor to climate change,” Chesbro said. “Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps 21 times more heat than carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas created by the burning of fossil fuels.”

Rural areas, however, are exempt: “‘Rural jurisdiction’ means a jurisdiction that is located entirely within one or more rural counties, or a regional agency comprised of jurisdictions that are located within one or more rural counties…’Rural county’ means a county that has a total population of less than 70,000 persons.”

Commercial organics recycling is a step forward in terms of increasing the State’s diversion percentages and reducing landfill tonnages. The end goal, however, will always be to return resources and nutrients back to the environment where they originated. We think it will help accomplish all of these goals. 

Recology – Artist in Residence Program – Issue No. 11

Posted in Community, Diversion, Recology, San Francisco, You Should Know... by art at the dump on November 12, 2014

Current Resident Artists

Kara Maria and Imin Yeh have hit the ground running, adapting to scavenging while also being incredibly productive. Within the first two weeks of their residencies Kara had nine paintings simultaneously in progress and Imin had created an entire alphabet of hand-carved movable type. Kara is experimenting with mark-making with found objects and plans on including representations of the wide range of animals at the facility—from hawks to flies—in her paintings. Imin has been carving wood printing blocks based on original artwork she’s found, and is also working on a quilt from discarded uniforms. Student artist Matthew Goldberg is collecting items that were once considered futuristic in order to explore our relationship to outer space. He’s been thinking about what might happen if we were to send our trash out into the galaxy—an idea some people have actually proposed. We’re excited to see what Kara, Imin, and Matthew will make in the coming months. Their end of residency exhibition will take place January 23, 24 and 27.

Beehive Cob Oven Gets a Second Life

After the Hayes Valley Farm closed in June 2013, we were the fortunate recipients of its cob oven. Though it took some time to build a new base and reinstall the oven, we completed the project in time for our last exhibition reception. Shaped like a beehive, the oven is now in the vegetable garden behind the art studio. During the Saturday reception we cooked pizzas in the oven for the public, topped with vegetables harvested from our garden.

The cob oven was built by Miguel Elliott of Living Earth Structures and participants of the Hayes Valley Farm’s permaculture course in May, 2012. The farm was a volunteer-led community project almost a city-block in size, located on the site of a former freeway onramp at Laguna Street between Fell and Oak Streets in San Francisco. The farm existed for three years through an interim use agreement with the City. Today condominiums are being built on the land. We are honored to have the oven here and keep the spirit of Hayes Valley Farm alive.  For more information about the Farm and the other urban agriculture projects it has inspired, visit

Selection of New Artists

We are currently in the process of selecting artists for 2015 residencies and will announce residency recipients in early December. If you are interested in applying for a 2016 residency, we will begin taking applications in late spring. The application deadline will be August 31, 2015. For more information about how to apply, please visit


Like Us on Facebook

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Work from the Recology Artist in Residence Program was recently exhibited at 2 Blocks of Art, an annual art walk on 6th Street in San Francisco. From January 5 to March 4 work will be exhibited in the lobby of 350/400 California Street, and from March 10 to 22 there will be an exhibition of Recology artwork in Los Angeles at the Voila Gallery at 518 N. LaBrea Avenue.

Gardener in Residence

In 2015, we will begin a Gardener in Residence Program, organized with the guidance of Garden for the Environment. Gardeners will have access to the Recology Sculpture Garden for projects and will work on site for four months. Information regarding the program will be posted on our website in December.


Alumni News

Re:New, an exhibition curated by Nemo Gould and Jeff Hantman and featuring new artwork by former Recology resident artists, is up at Lost and Foundry Oakland. Artists in the exhibition are Micah Gibson, Nemo Gould, Barbara Holmes, Ferris Plock, Lauren DiCioccio, Jeff Hantman, Benjamin Cowden, Yulia Pinkusevich, and Hannah Quinn. The exhibition will be on view through November 22, by appointment only.

James Sansing is the recipient of a 2014/15 Pollock Krasner Grant for painting. His film Verses is included in the Biennial of the Moving Image (BIM) in Buenos Aires in November, and he has been commissioned by Christian Dior to create three paintings for their Soho location in New York.

Lauren DiCioccio’s recent solo exhibition at Jack Fischer Gallery was reviewed by Kenneth Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle.She is currently an affiliate artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts.

Work by Jeff Hantman is included in the 28th Annual Emeryville Art Exhibition. The show runs through November 2, and is open daily, 11am-6pm. He is also in an exhibition at The Compound Gallery, opening November 1, and will have several works on exhibition in the space’s new Fabrefaction Gallery.

Work by Stephanie Syjuco is included in the Alien She exhibition at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, on view until January 25. She is also currently at the Workshop Residence where she is developing a collection of garments featuring a non-repeating dazzle screen print inspired by the camouflage systems used on WWI battleships.

Jeremy Rourke will be screening and performing with his stop-motion collage videos at Shapeshifters Cinema in Oakland on November 16. He will be showing a number of works, including the videos he made during his Recology residency.

Sirron Norris, Val Britton, and current Recology artists-in-residence Kara Maria and Imin Yeh all participated in the October 26Passport event, an annual art walk sponsored by the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery.

Karrie Hovey is spending October at the Brush Creek Artist Residency in Saratoga, Wyoming. She is also an affiliate artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts, and will be exhibiting in the Shunpike Storefronts program in Seattle which enables artists to exhibit their work in vacant storefronts. Her work will be on display on Republican Street in Seattle from November to March.

Samuel Levi Jones is the recipient of the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize given by the Studio Museum in Harlem. The $50,000 prize is awarded each year to one artist “who demonstrates great innovation, promise, and creativity.” Previous recipients include Gary Simmons, Glenn Ligon, and Lorna Simpson. He also has a solo show, Black White Thread, opening November 8 at Papillion in Los Angeles.

Reddy Lieb will teach glass workshops on November 9 and December 7, 10am-4pm, and a mini workshop on November 30, 1-3pm. Workshops are held at 3535 19th Street. For more information, fees, or to register, please contact Reddy.

Nemo Gould appears in Maker, a documentary on the maker movement.

Michael Kerbow was awarded a grand prize for his painting Critical Mass in the juried show Real Surreal at Sandra Lee Gallery in San Francisco. As part of the award he will be given an exhibition at the gallery in 2015.

Colette Crutcher has completed another mosaic stair project in collaboration with Aileen Barr, the Arelious Walker Stairway in Hunters Point off of Innes Street near the shipyard. She is also working on a grouping of mosaic-clad sculptures that will be installed at Taraval Street and 48th Avenue in early 2015.

Yulia Pinkusevich was selected to create a sculptural seating centerpiece for the new McMurtry Art and Art History building, designed by Diller, Scofidio & Renfro, at Stanford University.

Julia Goodman will teach a tin can papermaking workshop at INTUIT: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in Chicago on November 22. Her recent beet papyrus work The Root of Scarcity, 2014 will be included in Rooted in Soil, a group exhibition at the DePaul Art Museum, January 29 to April 26, 2015.

Bill Russell will show a series of new abstract paintings in a group show November 15, 16, 22 and 23 from 10am-4pm at ArtBrokers Gallery, 425 Irwin Street, San Rafael.

Mike Kendall will participate in Benicia open studios the first weekend of December. For more information:

Paula Pereira, working collaboratively with Swedish artist Pernilla Andersson as t.w.five, will have an installation in the Luggage Store’s new Lower Haight exhibition space. Entitled, Automaton X, the exhibition will open November 15, with a reception at 7pm.Luggage Store Projects @ 457 Haight.

Christine Lee will be an artist-in-residence at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, Colorado in February.

Scott Kildall is finishing up a residency at Impact Works in Utrecht in the Netherlands. During the residency he has made a new online art project called EquityBot, a stock-trading algorithm that “invests” in emotions such as anger, joy, disgust and amazement. During stock market hours, EquityBot tracks sentiments on Twitter to gauge how the world is feeling and links these emotions with actual stocks to make investments using a simulated brokerage account.

Kristin Cammermeyer was a recent visiting artist at UC Davis. Mid-May through June she will be producing new work at The Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University in Washington.

Ethan Estess is currently at the Nautilus Lanzarote art residency in the Canary Islands, using materials he finds on the beaches and streets to tell stories about the island’s people and environment. His collage series, Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, will be exhibited at the Pacific Grove Art Center, opening January 9. He began the series when he stumbled upon a 1970s whale poster in the dump during his Recology residency.

Matthew Gottschalk is an artist-in-residence in the Jail Cell studio at Alter Space in San Francisco. His solo show there, This Is Where Home Is, opens December 6th. He will also have an installation, The Higher We Rise, The Further Away I Seem,  in the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery’s Grove Street Windows opening December 16 with an artist talk January 10.

Scott Oliver’s proposal for a public artwork at the corner of Masonic Ave. and Geary Blvd. was chosen by the SF Arts Commission. Entitled Points of Departure, it will be fabricated by San Francisco-based Gizmo Art Production and is expected to be installed in spring, 2016.

Susan Leibovitz Steinman has published the latest edition of the online WEAD Magazine, Issue No. 7 “Cultivating Communities.”

Recology Celebrates Employee Ownership Month

Posted in Employee Ownership, Events by ErinAtRecology on October 14, 2014

ESOPThis October, Recology, along with the ESOP Association and the employee ownership community, will be celebrating Employee Ownership Month. We’re excited to share the incredible spirit of employee ownership with our customers and employees.

Employee Ownership Month is an opportunity for ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) companies across the U.S. to educate employee owners and the public about the benefits of ESOPs.

The Recology Ownership Celebration Committee (ROCC) celebrates by organizing annual raffles and fundraisers to support the ESOP and build employee ownership pride. Each year, the ROCC also honors outstanding employees with employee of the year awards.

Employee Ownership Facts:

  • There are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10 million employees.
  • Total assets owned by U.S. ESOPs are estimated to be $869 billion.
  • The Economic Performance Survey conducted by the Employee Ownership Foundation
    in 2013 found that:
    – 71% indicated a better performance in 2013, relative to 2012
    – 78% indicated revenue increased in 2013
    – 70% indicated profitability increased in 2013

For more information on ESOPs and Employee Ownership Month, please visit The ESOP Association. 

Founded in 1921, Recology is a 100% employee-owned company dedicated to improving the environment by utilizing resources to their highest use. Recology is a member of the Washington, DC-based ESOP Association, and the California/Western States Chapter of the Association.


Recology Community Gardens Give Back

Posted in Community, Composting, Diversion, Locally grown food by ErinAtRecology on September 23, 2014

Recology Community Garden As employee owners, we aim to serve the communities in which we work and live by giving back with more than just our excellent services. Employees at our organics facilities fight hunger locally by maintaining community gardens at many of our organics facilities, including Jepson Prairie Organics, Recology Grover, Nature’s Needs and Recology Northwest Greenlands in McMinnville and Aumsville, Oregon. The wide variety of crops cultivated, from squash and potatoes to eggs and okra, are all donated to local nonprofit organizations, such as food banks and senior centers.

The community gardens use Recology compost as amendment to grow organic veggies and fruit; the same compost that is made from food scraps and yard trimmings, collected from residents and businesses in the areas we serve. This year, our dedicated Recologists grew over 16,900 pounds of produce, with further harvesting expected in the next few weeks!

Recology Community Garden Recology Community Garden Recology Community Garden  Recology Community Garden

Recology San Mateo County Offers Food for Thought

Posted in Community, Composting, Resource Recovery, San Mateo County by ErinAtRecology on September 10, 2014

Recology San Mateo County

We’ve seen how the “eat local” movement has gained a lot of attention recently.  Local farmers’ markets and family farms are plentiful in and around the Bay Area, yet many people may not understand what it means to eat locally, or why it’s even important.

Generally, local food is defined as food that has traveled less than 400 miles from producer to consumer. Less travel time means a significant reduction in transportation costs and environmental impact. Eating locally not only has a direct impact on reducing energy use and global climate change, but it supports local economies and has a positive impact on local communities.

A few interesting facts about food consumption in the United States:

Did you know…much of the food purchased in grocery stores today is often imported from other countries?

Did you know…the average American meal contains ingredients imported from five different countries?

Did you know…the transportation of our food translates to massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, a leading greenhouse gas and major contributor to climate change?

Did you know…the import of fruits, nuts, and vegetables in California by airplane resulted in 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of 12,000 cars on the road?

Buying, fresh, healthy foods from local farmers, fisherman, and ranchers, helps support our local economy, reduces carbon emissions, and best of all – it tastes delicious! Below are some links to local resources that offer an abundance of fresh and natural foods.  Bon Appétit!

Below are a few resources for San Mateo County residents and businesses to purachse locally grown food:

Sorting Out the Facts

Posted in Community, Diversion, Recycling, Services by ErinAtRecology on August 26, 2014

SF Apartment, August 2014
by Robert Reed
(View the original article here)

Making sure your tenants recycle and compost can seem overwhelming, but the benefits—to the planet and to your pocket—are well worth the effort.

Trash is not a glamorous subject. In fact, most of us do not give much thought to our discards. But since we literally depend on a healthy environment—clean air and water, and healthy soils that produce organic fruits and vegetables—for our very existence, it is important to learn new information about the benefits of recycling.

As San Franciscans, we have much more control over where our discards go than people in other cities do. When we toss something in a recycling, compost or trash bin, we decide whether individual items will get made into new products, become compost that is applied to local farms, or be transported to and buried in a landfill. We do not always remember that we have this power, but we do. When we learn that the typical American produces 4.5 pounds of garbage a day—about one ton of discards per year—we begin to understand the scope of this issue and its effect on the environment.

We recycle because we know recycling helps protect our planet. Recycling saves water, energy and other resources like trees, natural gas and oil. Recycling also avoids what environmentalists call “upstream impacts,” such as diesel emissions from heavy equipment used to mine virgin materials.

And here’s an economic bonus: recycling creates 10 times more jobs than landfilling or incineration. Across the nation and the world, many communities are waking up to the fact that recycling is a powerful job creator. If every city in America recycled 75% of its waste, we could create 1.5 million new, permanent, local jobs, according to a report called “Recycling Works!” produced by a coalition of environmental and labor groups. In California alone, if all cities recycled 75%, we could create 120,000 new jobs, according to a new study from the Natural Resource Defense Council. In many cases, these jobs would include health care and a pension.

In San Francisco, we created 200 new jobs in 10 years by increasing recycling. Many of these jobs are at Recycle Central, the large plant Recology operates on Pier 96 to sort blue bin materials, including bottles, cans and paper. Before we opened Recycle Central, many of these workers did not have jobs or had minimum-wage jobs. Now they earn $20 an hour.

Composting Is Key
In addition to supporting green jobs, recycling helps San Francisco make further progress toward achieving key environmental goals set by the city. The most significant goal, the one that gives San Francisco the opportunity to be a true environmental leader, is the goal to achieve zero waste by 2020. Zero waste means sending next to nothing to landfills. That is an ambitious goal. It may also be the most important environmental goal our city could have set.

Composting, for example, saves tremendous amounts of water. That’s because compost, by weight, is 50% humus, also known as nature’s sponge. Microorganisms in compost break the yard and food waste down into smaller and smaller pieces. When the microbes have done their jobs and the pieces can’t get any smaller, we have humus. It is carbon-based and both attracts and retains water.

Agronomists report that if we can increase the amount of organic matter on farmland by 1% by adding compost, we can save 16,000 to 18,000 gallons of water per year. There are 45 million people in California. Image how much water we could save if everyone composted their food scraps, plant cuttings and food-soiled paper like we do in San Francisco. This should be a key consideration and motivation, given the seriousness of the California drought.
Recology began collecting food scraps for composting in 1996. The rest of the garbage collection and recycling industry thought we were nuts. Now, hundreds of cities and more than 1,000 universities have replicated the program. And many more want to do the same.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that most of these cities do not have a place to take their food scraps for composting. That’s because U.S. cities and businesses have not built nearly enough composting facilities. San Francisco is fortunate in this regard. Recology established three compost facilities capable of taking food scraps and plant cuttings collected in the city. One is outside Vacaville, another is near Modesto and a third is at Pacheco Pass near Gilroy.

Where could our country build more compost facilities? One answer is: on top of landfills. Then, instead of putting materials inside landfills, we could move food scraps, plant cuttings and food-soiled paper to compost sites.

Farmers love compost because high-quality compost contains billions of microorganisms, tiny life forms too small to see with the human eye. This is important because the microbes break down the nutrients in compost into small pieces, so small that they can be picked up by plants’ roots. Agronomists call the work microbes do “microbial action.”

Recology operates its compost facilities as microbe farms. There are 11 stages to our composting process. Fundamentally, it works like this: transport trucks bring food scraps and plants collected in small trucks from all properties in San Francisco to the facilities. In 60 days, Recology transforms this feedstock into nutrient-rich compost that is applied to more than 300 local farms, orchards and vineyards.

For 13 years, Nigel Walker of Eatwell Farm has applied compost made from food scraps collected in San Francisco. Walker describes the microbial action achieved by applying compost to his farm as “stoking a fire” in the soil. We might think of it as new life working in the soil.

Farmers often have agronomists test the topsoil on their farms to find out what they need to put back to balance their soils. With this knowledge, Recology creates custom blends of compost for individual farms. We do this on blending pads at our compost facilities. We mix in soil amendments such as gypsum, lime, sandy loam, minerals and rice hulls. Using tractors called loaders we top load the finished compost into specialized transport trucks that deliver it to area farms. Farmers love this because the compost arrives ready to be applied.

Not only does compost give farmers a viable alternative to using synthetic or chemical fertilizers, compost helps farms achieve higher yields. Such are the findings of side-by-side field trials by agricultural organizations, including the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, the oldest agricultural institute in the United States.

Here is another great reason to compost: many local vineyards use compost to grow cover crops that pull carbon out of the air and sequester carbon in topsoil. These cover crops, such as mustard, fix carbon and nitrogen naturally in the soil. Paul Hepperly, professor emeritus at the Rodale Institute and a Fulbright scholar, believes that if every community followed this example we could offset more than 20% of carbon emissions. That estimate is the subject of much interest and further study.

Recology also brings compost back to San Francisco for residents to use in gardens and on outdoor plants. The annual Compost Giveaway, which we host each spring, is a bring-your-own-bucket event where we set up and staff four giveaway locations throughout the city. Residents bring empty five-gallon buckets and we fill them with a gourmet planting mix. Recology also provides compost to urban farms and community gardens in San Francisco through efforts coordinated by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Recycling Big and Small
We also recycle tremendous amounts of construction and demolition debris in San Francisco. Such debris comes from large construction and demolition projects, and from small contractors and individuals who bring materials to the transfer station at 501 Tunnel Ave. Recology maintains and staffs special recycling facilities and sorting lines at the transfer station for this purpose.

Large or bulky items are collected and recycled through the RecycleMyJunk program. Residents can also recycle textiles, such as old clothes, through this program—a new and popular service. Go to for details. Working at the city’s direction, Recology has assigned several trucks and crews specifically to collect illegal dumping. This new program is working well, and our city is visibly cleaner.

Finally, while trash may not be a glamorous subject, it can be made into beautiful and unique art works. Recology’s Artist-in-Residence program continues to gain in popularity and renown. Last year, the program hosted a major exhibition at SFO. Pieces can be seen throughout the city in building entrances and other locations, including a three-acre sculpture garden at the transfer station. To learn about current and upcoming exhibitions go to

Increasing Recycling and Managing Collection Costs
In July 2013, the San Francisco Rate Board approved a rate order that changed the price structure for apartment buildings to encourage more recycling and composting. In August 2013, Recology, San Francisco’s recycling company, sent correspondence to apartment building owners and managers explaining the new structure and offering to help apartment buildings increase recycling and compost collection services and reduce disposal. By making these changes, apartment building owners and managers can help protect the environment and help manage their collection service costs.

In November 2013, Recology wrote, and SF Apartment Magazine published, a lengthy article titled, “Waste Not, Want Not” explaining the new rate structure. As a brief update and reminder, collection service charges now apply to all three collection bins: recycling, composting and trash. Importantly, the monthly rate charged to apartment buildings is discounted up to a maximum of 75% based on the building’s overall recycling rate. The rate board instituted this structure in support of the city’s goal of achieving zero waste by 2020.

To give apartment buildings time to increase recycling and composting and reduce disposal, the city instituted temporary caps limiting increases in monthly bills. Many buildings took advantage of this window to adjust their complement of bins and the frequency of collection service.

Under the Rate Order, the monthly service charge at all properties in San Francisco included a cost-of-living adjustment of 2.3%, effective July 1, 2014. Some buildings may see a larger increase due to either the elimination or reduction in their cap credit. These affected buildings received a personalized letter informing them of their new rates.

Apartment building owners and managers are encouraged to use the online apartment rate calculator Recology maintains at to see how potential changes in bin types, sizes and frequency of collection would affect your building’s monthly rate. You can also call us at 415-330-1300 and one of our apartment-house specialists will be glad to talk with you over the phone or set an appointment for a personal rate and service evaluation during the workshops we host specifically for apartment building customers.

Many apartment buildings are cleaning up and painting their trash rooms. Some buildings are improving lighting in recycling and compost bin locations. These steps make recycling areas more pleasant places, which helps encourage tenants to place their discards in the correct bins.

Additionally, Recology hosts a “property managers’ lounge” on its site, which provides owners and managers with numerous resources to encourage tenants to recycle and compost. The page is posted at

Recology Vacaville Solano Offers Pink Toters in Support of Local Cancer Foundation

Posted in Community by ErinAtRecology on August 12, 2014

Recology Vacaville

Tina Chechourka is a volunteer at many Recology community events. She is currently winning the battle against cancer.

A limited number of bright, new pink Toters® will soon be delivered to customers who want an easy and unique way to help provide assistance and resources to local cancer patients.

Recology Vacaville Solano is leasing 150 of the pink Toters® for $200 each year.  If all Toters® arRecology Pink Totere leased, $30,000 will be donated to the Solano Midnight Sun Breast Cancer Foundation.  Midnight Sun helps provide assistance and resources to the women and men in the local community who are affected by cancer.  The foundation also promotes early detection by providing women with funds for mammograms.

The pink Toters® replace the gray residual waste (trash) containers. Customers may sign up now for their Pink Toter® – they will be delivered in September, just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. All Recology Vacaville Solano customers are eligible to participate!

Customers are encouraged to come into the Recology office in Vacaville to sign up for the Pink Toter® program, or contact Julia Lopez, Recology Recycling Manager, at 707-448-2945 or


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