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Scandal-plagued Recology wants you to pay more for garbage removal

Recology trucks park in a large designated space on Jan. 31, 2022. | Camille Cohen

Barely two months after raising San Franciscans’ garbage pickup rates by nearly 9%, trash-hauling monopoly Recology has applied to jack them up again twice more.

Recology claimed in a news release today that the monthly charge for standard three-bin residential refuse collection—trash, recycling and composting—is significantly lower in San Francisco than in Oakland or San Jose. Specifically, San Francisco’s monthly rate of $46.87 is 18% lower than San Jose’s.

Consequently, the company has asked the Controller’s Office to approve a request for a 3.9% average rate hike on Oct. 1, followed by a 2.17% increase on Oct. 1, 2024, bringing the amount Recology charges residents just shy of $50 per month.

“Even with the increases, residential rates charged in San Francisco would remain well below rates currently charged in San Jose and Oakland for comparable service,” the release said.

Recology cited an “ongoing commitment to increased transparency in rate-setting and rate-reporting,” wording that may strike some San Franciscans as somewhat self-congratulatory in light of its past misdeeds. An investigation that grew out of corruption in the Department of Public Works revealed that Recology overcharged rate-payers by some $23 million.

A separate pay-to-play scandal in April 2022 saw the director of the city’s Department of the Environment resign after soliciting inappropriate donations from Recology.

Popular frustration with trash pickup led to 2022’s Proposition F, which reformed garbage collection in San Francisco while maintaining Recology’s century-old monopoly. The company is effectively patting itself on the back for complying with the terms of Prop. F.

Recology claimed some credit for the state of California’s agriculture industries.

“Many Northern California vineyards survived the 2011-2016 drought by applying San Francisco compost over the roots of their vines,” Friday’s release boasted. “The compost from Recology’s green bin program also helped many local farms survive the 2019-2022 drought.”

To justify its proposed rate hikes, Recology listed inflationary pressures on labor costs, unspecified pandemic-related changes to the city’s labor market, the costs of compliance with new employee-leave regulations and other costs.