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S.F.’s mandatory recycling & compost program & their non-promoted elevated pick up service

Submitted by on January 1, 2010 – 3:49 PM3 Comments
San Francisco recycling & garbage program

San Francisco recycling & garbage program

San Francisco has for a long time had an overall great recycling and compost program which recently became mandatory in the city’s effort to further increase the recycling rate from 72% to 90%.

It wasn’t until I moved to the S.F. Peninsula that I soon missed San Francisco’s weekly pick up schedule and the blue bins which are used for both paper, metals and plastics.  The Peninsula (San Mateo County) also does not compost kitchen waste (just yard waste) meaning residents have to buy their own compost bins to use in their back yards if they want to compost kitchen waste.  All this will hopefully change in the next year or so when the current contract with the existing Allied Waste garbage & recycling service ends.

In my research I learned that San Francisco’s recycling program is now 20 years old!

If you’re not familiar with the S.F. recycling/compost program you can visit SFEnvironment.org.

I’ve personally been a big supporter of recycling, reduce & reuse for years, more so after completing a BS in Environmental Studies.  Since compostable bags have become more widely available, composting kitchen food scraps is now much tidier to handle.

While recycling in S.F. has been at 40% for single family homes, 50% for restaurants & 20% for apartment buildings it sounds like part of the focus is to increase rates among apartments.

Per The Sacramento Bee:

The city’s most notorious recycling laggards tend to be owners of apartment buildings, Mr. Blumenfeld said. “We’re mainly focusing this new law at multi-tenant buildings; only 25 percent of those building owners provide recycling for renters.”

Personally, I’ve been hounding the city off & on for the last 5+ years to get them to pick up the green 32 gallon compost bins which are stored in an open area but up a flight of stairs at my rental property. Since I no longer live at the building and there is no on-site manager since it’s a small building, I’ve had to rely on my tenants to bring down the compost bins, which understandably is hit or miss not to mention that the bins are heavy & cumbersome to lug down a flight of stairs.

The city also has a policy that bins need to be brought in from the street by the end of the day otherwise warnings and fines will ensue.  Hence the reason for my hounding Sunset Scavenger as to why for years they’d pick up the building’s garbage and blue recycling bins (an add-on service which is at an additional charge)  but not the compost bins.  I even threatened to stop the compost program at my building if they started implementing fines when my tenants didn’t bring the bins in from the street in a timely manner.

Just one example of the frustrations in trying to do the right thing in a city that does not always have all the systems in place to make their programs more widely embraced.

For the record, Sunset Scavenger does not seem to advertise to property owners that they offer an elevated garbage/recycling pick up service.  I found out about this service through a neighbor ~9 years ago.

In a call that I placed to Sunset Scavenger this week,  I learned that Sunset Scavenger will FINALLY pick up the green compost bins & bring them back up from the street to their stored area!! For my three compost bins to be picked up by Sunset Scavenger it will add about $37/month to my bill.

If you are a tenant or an owner of a smaller building which does not have an on-site manager to pull bins out curbside this service will now make it easier to recycle and compost.  It’s beyond me why this service is not being promoted by Sunset Scavenger.  Here is the number to call to sign up for this service: (415) 626-4000.  

Perhaps this accounts in part for the low recycling rates among S.F. apartment buildings??

I’m not sure where S.F. is at with issuing fines for garbage & recycling bins which are stored in front of a property.  My recollection is that for aesthetics bins need to be stored out of site or within a storage type unit.  It’s not uncommon for S.F. properties to have no garage, no front yard & to be fully attached resulting in there being no space to store bins.  Perhaps S.F. will grant exceptions?

Feel free to share your success stories or tips in implementing a recycling & composting program at your property.

Related post:  The Paperless Real Estate Transaction is Possible!


Posted by:

Cheryl Bower, Realtor , GRI, ABR
Cell 415.999.3450

cheryl@cbower.com
DRE #: 01505551

Chat Skype: cherylbowersf
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