Resource recovery is fundamental to what Recology does. Our experience dates back to the early 1900s, when San Francisco Bay Area "scavengers" recognized the recycling opportunities in what was being discarded and actively sought out positive uses for refuse.
We are the pioneer in resource recovery, proud to have launched:
- The first anaerobic digestion of source-separated food scraps to create electricity in the United States, beginning in 2004.
- The first curbside compostable collection program in the United States, piloted in 1996.
- The first use of the split-body truck for efficient recyclables and garbage collection in 1999.
- The first large scale transfer station in the industry. It opened in November 1970.
- The world-renowned Artist in Residence Program in 1990 allowing local artists to find materials in our processing facilities to create art.
- One of the first household hazardous waste drop-off facilities and collection programs established in California as part of the municipal solid waste collected for the City and County of San Francisco.
Each Recology subsidiary offers unique recycling programs and services to benefit the communities we serve and to advance our industry toward WASTE ZERO. We continue to look for innovative ways to increase the recovery of resources in the communities we serve.
Optimizing resource recovery involves using the right facilities, technologies, and practices - this is core to what we do. As employee-owners, we constantly evaluate new technologies and processes, and refine our approach to resource recovery to create the kind of communities where we are proud to live and work.
Recology owns and operates several large-scale composting facilities that utilize state-of-the-art composting technology in California and Oregon to transform food scraps, yard debris, and other biodegradable material into compost for use as soil amendments by agricultural industries. Our compost is sought out by over 200 vineyards and local farms in California and Oregon.
Experience has taught us that anaerobic digestion can play a part in many composting systems. In 2004, Recology began collaborating with the East Bay Municipal Utility District to transform food scraps into fuel. By feeding the organic material to anaerobic digesters at EBMUD's Wastewater Treatment Plant in Oakland, California, we have avoided emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from organic material that would have otherwise gone to landfills. The food scraps are pre-processed by Recology, transformed into biogas, and used to generate energy. The project is the first of its kind in the United States.
Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs)
MRFs are facilities where Recology processes the flow of materials that have been collected for recycling and recovery. Recology is proud to have an internationally-recognized single-stream MRF at Pier 96 in San Francisco. We now own or operate facilities where recyclable materials like paper, plastic, wood, metal, electronics and fibers are sorted and prepared as inputs into their next use.
Renewable Energy Generation
In 2007 Recology partnered with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and installed solar panels on the roof of our Recycle Central® facility at Pier 96. These solar panels are capable of producing 30% of the recycling facility's electricity, generating more than 380,000 KWh annually.
Recology's Environmental Learning Center in San Francisco and at our Hay Road Landfill also use solar energy as part of their energy source mix.
Recology also uses clean wind power to supply electricity to the Metro Central Transfer Station in Portland, Oregon.
We operate our vehicles using the cleanest technology available today.
Fully-automated and semi-automated
Recology collects resources for recovery and disposal using automated and semi-automated trucks. Using a joystick, and other automated controls, drivers can efficiently collect carts and heavy bins while minimizing physical strain. The fully-automated trucks utilize the best available technology in the market and create efficiencies that are passed on to our customers. These trucks make collection quieter than the older models, and consume less fuel.
Recology pioneered the use of the split-body collection truck. These trucks make it possible to efficiently collect garbage and recyclables at the same time and reduce the number of trucks on the road, which in turn reduces our GHG emissions. Recyclables and garbage are never mixed in these trucks. The trucks have two compartments that keep source-separated recyclables in a separate compartment from landfill-bound garbage.
Alternative-fuel vehicles are part of our daily operation. The majority of our fleet is fueled by alternatives to gasoline and diesel including biodiesel, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and compressed natural gas (CNG).
As part of our commitment to making the best and highest use of all materials, we collect the gas that is naturally created from the decomposition of materials in an anaerobic environment and turn that gas into electricity at our landfills. Recology continues to take steps towards voluntarily reducing our landfill GHG emissions. Through the ClimateSmart™ program, Recology voluntarily captures and destroys methane at our California landfills, further reducing our negative environmental impacts.