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Politics & Policy

Scandal-Ridden SF Garbage Collector May Lose One of Its Contracts With the City

Written by Jonah Owen LambPublished Jan. 14, 2023 • 3:40pm
Recology trucks park in a large designated space. | Camille Cohen

Recology, the scandal-plagued garbage company that has collected refuse from San Francisco for almost a century, could lose one of its near-monopoly contracts with the city, according to a city official.

While this may be the first time since the 1930s that Recology or one of its subsidiaries has not been awarded every contract to collect garbage in San Francisco, the contract in question represents only a small fraction of the behemoth’s business. 

“This contract is not even a zit on the body of the elephant that is Recoclogy’s work in San Francisco,” Aaron Peskin, president of the SF Board of Supervisors, said of the recent contract. 

While the troubled firm retains its much more lucrative residential contract with the city, Recology was notified about the potential awarding of a $10 million contract to another company.

Allied Waste Industries Inc. was notified by the City Administrator's Office of the plan to award a contract to collect refuse from city-owned locations. 

Recology can file an appeal to the city, which still requires a formal vote on the contract in a pro forma decision of the awarded bid. 

Recology did not respond to a request for comment on the contract, which was initially reported by The San Francisco Chronicle. 

In 2021, Recology's subsidiaries accepted responsibility for paying bribes in order to influence Mohammed Nuru, who, as head of the Department of Public Works, controlled trash pickup rates. Recology’s former executive, Paul Giusti, later pleaded guilty in a federal case for his part in a scheme with Nuru to hike those rates.

That scandal, and the federal cases that resulted, led in part to the passage of a new law that bans city officials from asking for funding from their contractors and those they do business with.

It was one such payment from Recology that got the former head of the Department of the Environment in trouble with the Ethics Commission last week

Recology was also found in a city investigation to have gouged rate payers during Nuru’s tenure at Public Works. Eventually, the company was forced to refund nearly $100 million to ratepayers. 

The larger question now looming over the company’s future relationship with San Francisco is whether city leaders will open up the competitive bidding process for the much more important residential garbage contract, which until now Recology has always been awarded. 

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at

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