Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance

San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance requires San Francisco residents and businesses to properly separate recyclables and compostables and keep them out of the landfill. Check out our fact sheet for more information. Recycling and composting is one way to help San Francisco achieve its goal of zero waste by 2020.

Half of what currently goes in the black bin can be recycled or composted. The City - businesses, residents, and city government - currently diverts 80 percent of what it throws away from the landfill. With full participation in the existing programs, San Franciscans can divert 90 percent of its discards from the landfill. 

What is San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?

San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance requires residents and businesses to keep recyclables and compostables out of their landfill bin.

How can I comply with San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?

To comply with the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance:

  1. Order service from Recology to receive recycling, composting, and landfill bins. Property owners and managers must provide color-coded containers for tenants, employees, contractors, and customers to ensure separation of discards.

  2. Residents can also choose to compost at home and take recyclables to appropriate recycling centers. Garden for the Environment offers free classes on urban backyard composting. San Francisco Community Recyclers accepts all recyclables that can go in the blue bin.

  3. Participate in the programs! Put recyclables in the blue bin and compostables in the green bin to keep them out of the landfill. Use RecycleWhere to find reuse and recycling options for everything from electronics to couches.

Do I have to pay extra for recycling or composting service?

San Francisco residents receive recycling and composting service with landfill service at a flat rate. Apartment buildings (6 units or more) and businesses pay a reduced rate for recycling and composting service.

When residents and businesses recycle and compost everything correctly, they can reduce landfill service and save money.

Residents can reduce their landfill service from a standard 32-gallon bin to a 20-gallon bin. Businesses can save up to 75% off the variable costs of the refuse bill by reducing the size of their landfill bin or frequency of pick-up.

Will I get fined if my tenants do not recycle or compost properly?

Building owners will be fined if they fail to provide tenants with adequate blue, green, and black bin service and information on their proper use.

Will composting be messy or smelly?

Collecting compostables should not be any more messy or smelly than putting food scraps in your trash. The same materials are being collected - just in a different container.

What if I don’t have much compost — can I put my kitchen pail on the curb for collection?

Compost must be placed in Recology’s curbside green bin for efficient curbside collection. 

I'm a renter. How do I get recycling and composting service at my building?

Renters can call their property managers and inform them about the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance. If the property owner or manager is unresponsive, please inform SF Environment by filling out our anonymous notification form so that the Zero Waste team can follow up with the property owner or manager.

I'm elderly and/or disabled and I cannot physically move three carts to the curb.

There is currently a special rate for disabled residents. Recology will collect all three carts from inside locations at no additional distance fee or key charge. To apply, call Recology at 415-330-1300 or visit Recology.

Where can I learn more about the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance?

To learn more about the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance, contact SF Environment’s Zero Waste team at 415-355-3700.

SF Environment offers recycling and composting resources for residents and businesses:

  • Trainings

  • Sample letters notifying tenants of new programs

  • Signage and Posters

  • Stickers for bins

  • Door-to-door multi-lingual outreach