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.
Recology promotes recycling, composting, and other waste-reduction programs to minimize the amount of materials sent to landfills.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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, Terry Berlier, who now sits on the board of the program, muralist Sirron Norris, and filmmaker Nomi Talisman.
Challenge of San Francisco franchise
In 2012, citizens of San Francisco sought to unlock Recology's government-enforced monopoly on waste collection through a citywide referendum that would legalize competition. Residents Tony Kelly and retired Judge Quentin Kopp collected enough signatures to put Proposition A on the city's ballot. Proposition A sought to open the city's politically-determined monopoly on waste collection to five separate competitive-bid contracts. Recology spent close to $1.5M to influence the referendum, seeking to defeat the measure and to maintain its monopoly. Proponents of Prop A spent approximately $55,000. Recology ultimately defeated Prop A, with 77% of the vote going for the continuation of its monopoly.