The original Bay Area garbage men, or "scavengers", came to San Francisco from Italy in the late 19th century. At that time, scavenging in San Francisco was a disorderly and inefficient business. Hundreds of independent collectors competed for business. The 1906 earthquake and fire temporarily improved business, but did little to bring order to the chaos of garbage collection.

A Proud History of Enterprise and Innovation

Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, several loose confederations of scavengers began to form. This brought a semblance of organization to the scavenger trade in San Francisco. By the early 1920s, two major refuse companies had emerged: Scavenger's Protective Association and Sunset Scavenger Company.  In 1921, San Francisco began regulating the scavenger service, and by the mid-1930s began setting rates and requiring permits for operation. Scavenger's Protective Association and Sunset Scavenger Company were given exclusive refuse collection licenses for the city. These licenses are still held today.
Scavenger's Protective Association--the predecessor to Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling Company--developed expertise in commercial and dense residential areas, while Sunset Scavenger Company invented new ways to collect refuse in residential neighborhoods. Both enterprises expanded as California grew. Customer service always remained a top priority.

1935-1985:  A Firm Foundation

In 1935, the city's two collection companies formed Sanitary Fill Company (today known as Recology San Francisco), the first of a number of jointly owned specialized subsidiaries. Sanitary Fill Company's charter was to develop disposal capacity for the increasingly large amount of refuse that was overwhelming San Francisco.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, both San Francisco collection companies grew and expanded their services to keep pace with the city's growth. In 1965, as part of a modernization program, Scavenger's Protective Association changed its name to Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling Company. Sunset continued to operate from a site that had previously been a landfill, near the San Francisco/San Mateo County line.
Between 1973 and 1982, affiliated collection companies were acquired by Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling Company and Sunset Scavenger Company to develop techniques in the specialized field of resource recovery.  In 1983, in recognition of its expanding horizons, Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling Company was reorganized as Norcal Solid Waste Systems just as Sunset had become Envirocal in 1973.

1986 - Present:  90 Years of Leadership & Innovation

In 1986, Norcal was sold to its 570 employees and their Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to ensure Norcal's independence and to continue a more than sixty-year tradition of employee ownership. Envirocal also began exploring the possibility of creating an ESOP.  In 1987, Norcal purchased Envirocal. With the merger of the two companies, Norcal became one of the nation's ten largest 100 percent employee-owned companies, with a substantial minority representation among its shareholders.
In the early 1990s, Norcal streamlined its operations and initiated changes that strengthened the corporation's position in the market. The changes enhanced its reputation as an aggressive and dynamic company.
On April 27, 2009, Norcal Waste Systems, Inc. formally changed its name to Recology Inc. to reflect its existing culture and commitment to sustainable practices.

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