San Francisco supervisors hold hearing to push for better trash can strategies

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Supervisor Matt Haney held a hearing at San Francisco City Hall to discuss trash cans and trash pickup services to combat the city's garbage problem.

Representatives from San Francisco Public Works, Recology, Department of Public Health, Office of Economic and Workforce Development presented current policies in place and pilot programs they're currently trying out.

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Jeremy Spitz from Public Works says the department feels this issue is based on bad behavior.

"If people used cans as they are intended, we wouldn't really be having this hearing, we really wouldn't be seeing the issues that we're seeing on the street," Spitz said.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said there's tension between how the city and how the Department of Public Works wants to approach trash can policy.

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"We don't always think more trash cans equals cleaner streets because they're so often abused," Spitz said.

Supervisor Matt Haney disagrees.

"We don't even have enough trash cans out there on the streets. You can walk for blocks and blocks and not even see a single trash can, and the ones that you see are often broken or busted open," Haney said. "This is an innovative city, a creative city. We should be able to have trash cans that work where they're needed."

One solution being tested out by Recology in San Francisco's Tenderloin District is a new automatic lock on private recycle bins.

In Dec. 2019, Recology started out with 50 bins, expanded to 100 and now, will move on to 1,000 for businesses.

The bins do not have the traditional master lock where only the customer and the driver have access to unlock it. Instead, these new lock bins only have a set of keys to the customer. The bin can unlock when it's hooked up to the driver's truck so there's no inconvenience to the driver.

The pilot program also includes notifying customers of a collection time window and changing the times drivers work so bins aren't outside for an extended period of time.

"We have switched our Tenderloin drivers from servicing at night from 7 p.m. to a morning collection time," Operations Supervisor Kareem Saber said. "So the cans aren't on the street all night,"

Supervisor Haney thanked the team at Recology for being innovative and wants to speed up the timeline to expand the program to not only recycle bins, but garbage bins as well.

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