Noe Valley Voice April 2013

The Dirt on Garbage

By Heather World


San Franciscans have done such a great job recycling they’ll now have to pay more for garbage collection, if provider Recology’s request to raise rates by more than 20 percent gets city approval.

The new cost would vary based on the type and frequency of service received. The average single-family household with a trio of 32-gallon black, blue, and green bins would pay $34.51 a month, a $6.60 increase from the current rate. Customers switching from a 32-gallon black trash bin to a 20-gallon trash bin would pay $25.13 per month.

For apartment buildings, the new rate structure would include discounts to encourage more recycling and composting. The cost increases would be capped at 25 percent in 2014 and 50 percent in 2015. Changes would take effect in the late summer.

Recology justifies the increase by citing a decline in revenue and the need to invest in future waste-processing technologies.

At present, the company charges residential customers based on the size of their black trash bins. Many customers recycle and compost more and so have switched to smaller black bins. The company says it needs to start collecting a fixed charge for blue and green bins to cover expenses, and that it also must pay for rising labor and fuel costs.

The director of the San Francisco Department of Public Works will review the request and hold public hearings on the increase. He will then make a recommendation to the body that determines refuse rates, made up of the city controller, the city administrator, and the general manager of the Public Utilities Commission.

The first of several hearings has been scheduled for Friday, April 12, at 1 p.m. in City Hall, Room 408.

The city has contracted a ratepayer advocate to help those who want to better understand the proposal and come up with questions and comments. The ratepayer advocate can be contacted by email at, by phone at 415-554-6921, or in writing at SF Ratepayer Advocate, c/o HFH Consultants, 201 North Civic Drive, Suite 230, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.

In June 2012, Recology maintained its monopoly on trash collection in the city by successfully staving off a voter initiative that would have required firms to bid for the business.