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Recology Inc.
IndustryIntegrated Resource Recovery
Founded1920 [1]
Headquarters50 California Street, 24th Floor
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, California 94111 - 9796
Area served
United States
RevenueIncrease US$1 billion (2018)
Number of employees
approx 3,200 people (2018)
WebsiteOfficial website
Aerial view of Recology San Francisco, Recology's dump/transfer station.

Recology, formerly known as Norcal Waste Systems, is an waste management company headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company collects and processes municipal solid waste, reclaiming reusable materials. The company also operates transfer stations, materials recovery facilities (MRFs), a number of landfills, and continues to spearhead renewable energy projects. Recology is the largest organics compost facility operator by volume in the United States.

Recology Inc. is the parent to approximately 40 operating companies, including Recology San Francisco, Recology CleanScapes (Seattle), and Recology Portland.


A Recology waste collection truck in San Francisco.

Recology promotes recycling, composting, and other waste-reduction programs to minimize the amount of materials sent to landfills.[2]

Just south of San Francisco, Recology brings solid and residential waste from Recology San Mateo County to the Shoreway Environmental Center, a large, multi-purpose recycling center and Materials Recovery Facility that is operated by South Bay Recycling, a joint venture between Recology and Potential Industries.

In early 2009, after an investigation, the company obtained a court order against various organized illegal "poachers" who were raiding curbside recycling containers to sell the contents for scrap.[3]

As of 2015, the company employed approximately 3,000 employees, with revenues of approx $800 million. The company is 100% employee-owned through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Recology is the largest ESOP in the industry.[citation needed]


The company has a long history in the Bay Area, and holds a no-bid contract for garbage collection in San Francisco. In 1932, the city granted a permanent concession to the city's 97 independent garbage collectors; shortly thereafter those 97 independents banded together to form the company that would become Norcal Waste Systems.[4] Since that time, the company has held a permanent no-bid, no-franchise-fee contract to collect the city's garbage and recyclables. The company works closely with SF Environment to achieve the City's diversion and sustainability goals.

Artist-in-residence program[edit]

Recology also created an artist-in-residence program in 1990, allowing local artists to use materials found in its materials recovery and processing facilities to create art. It was the first and for a long period only such program in the United States.[5][6]

Among the program's alumni are Nathaniel Stookey, who composed Junkestra, a classical music composition for thirty instruments made out of the company's refuse,[7][8] Terry Berlier, who now sits on the board of the program,[9] muralist Sirron Norris, and filmmaker Nomi Talisman.[10] The PBS NewsHour highlighted the AIR Program in their Canvas seriesin 2019.[11]

Challenge of San Francisco franchise[edit]

In 2012, San Francisco voters considered Proposition A, a ballot measure that would have put the City's waste collection to five separate competitive-bid contracts. Residents Tony Kelly and retired Judge Quentin Kopp collected enough signatures to put Proposition A on the city's ballot. Prop A was overwhelmingly voted down, with 77% of the vote going for the continuation of Recology's services.[12]


  1. ^ "Recology - History". Recology, Inc. Retrieved 6 March 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Adele Peters and Julia Levitt (2009-03-03). "Designing a Zero-Waste City: A Visit to the San Francisco Dump". World Changing. Archived from the original on 2009-03-10. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Kelly Zito (2009-03-07). "Judge orders scavengers to stop raiding trash". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ Elizabeth Lesley Stevens (2011-06-09). "Picking Up the City's Garbage Is a Sweet Deal, and a Monopoly". New York Times.
  5. ^ Reyhan Harmanci (2006-04-20). "Is it garbage or is it art? Artists in residence: Norcal Waste allows artists to dig through the dump and create beauty". San Francisco Chronicle.
  6. ^ Patricia Leigh Brown (2005-01-26). "A Makeover for Trash; Now, It's Art". New York Times.
  7. ^ Tyche Hendricks (2007-10-21). "Junk orchestra will spotlight recycling". San Francisco Chronicle.
  8. ^ Joshua Korman (2007-11-11). "Garbage in, music out". San Francisco Chronicle.
  9. ^ Cerankowski, Karla; Wander, Robin (4 October 2012). "Stanford artist Terry Berlier makes art from trash, and from a twisted home". Stanford Report. Retrieved 6 March 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Petty, Matt (2006-01-23). "Art Openings: City Hall and The Dump". Culture Blog!. Retrieved 2020-03-01.
  11. ^ Wise, Kat. "This San Francisco art exhibit takes another look at trash". PBS. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  12. ^ Dan McMenamin (2012-06-05). "SF Voters Reject Garbage Measure, Approve Coit Tower Initiative". San Francisco Appeal.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]