Recology, an integrated resource recovery company headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company collects and processes municipal solid waste, reclaiming useful materials that would have otherwise been buried in a landfill. The company also runs transfer stations, materials recovery facilities (MRFs), and a small number of landfills. Recology is the largest organics compost facility operator by volume in the United States.

Recology is responsible for the highest landfill diversion rate in the country, which it achieves through collaboration with the City of San Francisco, which created a Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance.

In April 2009, Recology, formerly known as Norcal Waste Systems, Inc., changed its name to reflect its culture and values, and the activities in which it was already heavily invested. The name Recology is a combination of the words "recycle" and "ecology".



Recology promotes recycling, composting, and other waste-reduction programs to minimize the amount of materials sent to landfills.[1] The company has explored technologies to facilitate landfill diversion and developed programs to transform landfill-bound materials into their next best and highest use. For example, at one time, the company explored the possibility of converting pet waste into methane gas.[2] The company has advanced the conversion of organics into biogas to generate electricity.

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 2002 the company employed approximately 2,100 people, with revenues of $351 million.[4] The company is 100% employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Recology is the largest ESOP in the industry.

Resource Recovery

Recology is the pioneer in resource recovery, having successfully created, launched, and expanded many of the first resource recovery programs in the U.S.


Recology implemented the first curbside composting program in the United States, piloted in 1996.

Anaerobic Digestion

Recology launched the first project to anaerobically digest source separated food scraps to create electricity in the United States, beginning in 2004.


As Recology, the company has embraced "WASTE ZERO" as their approach to resource recovery. WASTE ZERO their rallying cry to "make the best and highest use of all resources that are manufactured, consumed, discarded and re-manufactured."[5]

The company created one of the first household hazardous waste drop-off facilities and collection programs in California as part of municipal solid waste with the City and County of San Francisco.


The company began using the first split-body trucks for efficient recycling and garbage collection in 1999, designing and building the first large scale transfer station in the industry, which opened in November 1970.

Making Art from "Garbage"

Recology also created the world renowned 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 until recently, only Artist in Residence program in the United States.[6][7]

Among the program's alumni is Nathaniel Stookey, who composed Junkestra, a classical music composer composition for thirty instruments made out of the company's refuse.[8][9]

Recology has expanded the program to enable materials recovery work by artists in Portland, Oregon, through the Pacific Northwest Art Program (PNAP). The program sponsors professional artists for six months and gives them access to the transfer station, where they create art to raise awareness about overconsumption and natural resource depletion.


The company's predecessors date back to the turn of the 20th century. After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, guilds of "scavengers" recovered material from the rubble to reuse or resell it. In 1921 the San Francisco began to regulate refuse collecting, forming the city-chartered Scavenger's Protective Association and Sunset Scavenger Company. After a series of changes in the industry beginning around 1965, the companies expanded their services and changed their names. In order to continue to provide valuable services to the city, the companies went through a series of consolidations and in 1983 became Norcal Waste Systems.

The 1980s were a turbulent economic time for most companies working in the industry. Expenses associated with the employee stock ownership plan, and a series of acquisitions of smaller companies lead to financial difficulties in the early 1980s.[4] Since that time, the company has made a notable turn-around, and is now economically solvent.

See also


External links

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