San Francisco Refuse Separation Ordinance July 2019

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San Francisco Refuse Separation Ordinance July 2019

New Refuse Separation Ordinance starts July 1, 2019

Large Refuse Generators (LRG): Get an Audit or Get a Fine?

Approved by SF Board of Supervisors

LRGs benefit from a Diversion Audit and appropriate changes

LRGs that ignore this new Ordinance face consequences including steep fines

commitment environment

3 Years

Waste audit every 3 years in compliance with the City of San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance.

Commingled Recycling Program

Per Week

Large Refuse Generators or 40 cubic yards of uncompacted refuse (recyclables, compostables, and trash) per week.

Eye Site Monitoring


Audits must involve Department of the Environment or Recology personnel.

commitment quality

Passing Audits

Contamination lower than
5% for compostables
10% for recyclables and
25% for trash

request service

Failed Audits

Failed properties needs to hire a qualified Zero Waste Facilitator.

Zero Waste Facilitator

BWRS is a Zero Waste Facilitator (ZWF) specializing in account management for commercial & retail buildings. BWRS assists clients to reach a goal of ZERO WASTE. The Department of the Environment (SF Environment) keeps an updated list of known Zero Waste facilitators indicating which have had training conducted by the Department.

Refuse Separation Ordinance Timeline


  • Your current sorter most likely will not be enough to pass inspection.
  • One sorter can get through about 300,00square feet of normal office refuse.
  • It takes about 4 to 6 minutes to sort one single large trash bag.
  • The better the tenants sort, the quicker we can sort.
  • Small plastics like wrappers and creamers slow down the sorters.
  • Bags that contain broken glass are not sorted and placed in landfill bin.

Large Refuse Generators (LRG) Diversion Audits

Large Refuse Generators in San Francisco should have a recycling, composting, and trash audit to ensure compliance with the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance.

An audit involves the City (SF Department of the Environment) or Recology visually inspecting, photographing, and documenting recycling, composting, and trash container contents to determine if the property is compliant.

Learn more here.

Recycling Audit

Compost Audit

Trash Audit

Refuse Separation Ordinance:
Large Generators and Zero Waste Facilitators

FAQ for Property Owners and Managers

The Refuse Separation law will increase compliance with San Francisco’s mandatory recycling and composting requirements by auditing the refuse (compostables, recyclables, and trash) of large producers (Large Refuse Generators), and requiring them to engage staff (“Zero Waste Facilitator”) to ensure adequate material separation, when necessary.

Read the SFEnvironment FAQ to learn more.

Refuse Self Assessment

In order to help Large Generators succeed in passing their waste audits, Recology has compiled a ‘Self-Assessment’ process.

Download the Self-Assessment Form (in English, Spanish or Chinese) and watch a tutorial video here:

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