The accident happened at 7:40 a.m. on Jones and Antonio streets, just south of O'Farrell Street.
The man was stepping off the sidewalk when he was struck by the garbage truck. There is a surveillance camera in the area which will be a key piece of evidence in this investigation.
Police are trying to determine if the pedestrian could hear if the truck that was backing up.
"It is supposed to be equipped with a beeper and our investigation will be to inspect all mechanical systems on the vehicle," said San Francisco Police Dept. Sgt. Eric Mahoney.
"Our thoughts go out to the family members of the deceased. We are fully cooperating with the police investigation. We take safety very, very seriously. We have safety officers on the scene," said Recology spokesperson Robert Reed.
There have been a series of fatal accidents involving Recology trucks and this is the third in San Francisco this year. This past May in the Mission District a 21-year-old bicyclist was killed when he was hit and dragged. Last month a woman was entering the freeway off of 7th Street when a truck hit her vehicle and she was killed.