Blue bins to swallow up more recyclable trash

San Francisco’s residential black garbage bins are getting a lot smaller and could disappear altogether in the future.

San Francisco’s Department of Environment Director Debbie Raphael announced Thursday at a press conference, a major change in The City’s residential recycling program in over 15 years where residents can now put items like entire empty coffee cups, empty ice cream and milk containers, empty soup and juice containers, into the blue recycling bin.

Raphael said:

“Effective immediately, San Franciscans will have the ability to put an unprecedented amount of materials into their blue bin.”

Raphael added:

“We’ve never been closer to eliminating the need for our black bin.”

Residents will also be able to put plastic bags and wrap, such as bubble wrap or shrink wrap, into the recycling bin. Recology is asking residents to contain the plastic bags and wrap into a plastic bag before putting it into the blue bin.

Over the next two years, Recology will start handing out smaller black bins and larger blue bins because of the new changes, said Paul Giusti, community and government affairs manager at Recology.

The black bin will shrink from a 32-gallon bin to a 16-gallon bin, and the blue bin will increase in size from  a 32-gallon bin to 64-gallon bin.

Recology has already begun distributing the new bins in the Sunset District, and Recology has already seen a 10 percent increase in recycling in one week, said Giusti:

“This change was possible because residents and businesses in San Francisco embraced the recycling and composting program.”

Another change happening is the way Recology trucks will now pick up the bins. One truck will pick up the blue and green bins together, and a separate truck will pick up the black bin.

Board of Supervisors President London Breed said The City is on its way to meeting its zero waste goal by 2020:

“We are going to get there sooner than 2020 I believe if we keep going at this pace.”

Residents now will not have think twice of what to do with a coffee cup that has a lid and sleeve, said Breed:

“Most of you probably won’t admit it, but you probably already put your entire coffee cup in there. Well now you can do with the assurance that it will actually be recycled and that will be less work for the folks at Recology to separate all the bad things that sometimes go in…”

Supervisor Katy Tang said that many households probably have the conversation of what items go in which bin:

“I hope that this effort and campaign is a renewal for all of us to actually understand what it is we can put in all of our bins.”

Tang also encouraged residents to make some changes such as bringing your own coffee mug to the coffee shop, refusing plastic utensils when ordering takeout and bringing cloth bags to put vegetables in instead of using a plastic bag:

“I want us to remember to refuse things.”