Refuse Separation Compliance Legislation: Are you a Large Refuse Generator?

To help San Francisco achieve its Zero-Waste goals, Supervisor Safai has introduced legislation targeting the city’s largest refuses generators (LRGs). An LRG is defined as those entities that produce 30 or more cubic yards of waste a week. This is based on the Recology bill address. If the restaurant or restaurant group has  multiple locations with separate waste bills, each location is measured on its own vs. a cumulative total.

While the majority of LRGs are hotels, large housing and office buildings,  and hospitals, we have confirmed with Recology that there are some restaurants and restaurant groups that fall into this category. Our restaurants already work very closely with Recology to ensure proper trash sorting given so much of our waste is compostable. Recology already regularly audits and tags businesses with problematic sorting issues and even issues fines for noncompliance. Given this reality, we are unclear on the necessity of this additional layer of compliance legislation for our industry.

We have been working with the Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, and our elected officials as we advocate for our restaurant industry. As the legislation is currently written, these are the issues we are most concerned with and are advocating to amend:

  • If found to be an LRG, fines would be imposed and the restaurant would be required to hire a Zero Waste Facilitator who’s exclusive function at the restaurant would be to help manage the waste stream for a minimum of 24 months. 
    • Our industry operates on extremely tight margins and we struggle to find and maintain staff as is. Employing an “exclusive function” zero waste facilitator for two years is an economic hardship.
    • We are also trying to build in a warning period for the LRG to manage their waste stream to fall out of the LRG category prior to implementation of the fines and required hire.
  • The operative date is currently set to July 1, 2019.
    • We are advocating to have the operative date move to January 1, 2020.
    • This gives restaurants more time to re-evaluate their waste streams and potentially fall out of the current definition of a LRG.

We have notified all restaurants that fall into the LRG category and provided a letter template to send to the Board of Supervisors: Restaurant Letter Template to Send. If you have not yet sent over your letter, please do so!

We will provide updates to the legislation as it comes. If you have any questions please reach out to Chhavi at

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