The Role of Cartons in San Francisco’s Journey to Zero Waste


By Jason Pelz

For years, San Francisco has been recognized for its environmental friendliness. Around the city, you will find no shortage of recycling containers, and it’s clear they have fostered a community that is committed to remaining on the cutting edge of environmental leadership. 

Given that San Francisco was the first U.S. city to make both recycling and composting mandatory, the Carton Council is especially excited about the most significant update to the city’s recycling program since it launched more than 15 years ago.

We are thrilled that San Francisco’s city recycling program now accepts both shelf-stable (aseptic) and refrigerated (gable-top) cartons in the blue recycling bin. This update is part of a broader effort to further reduce waste in San Francisco, and we could not be prouder to take part in expanding carton recycling access to this community. Residents are receiving new blue recycling containers for their cartons and other recyclables, green composting containers and smaller, black trash containers to reinforce that more materials should be recycled and composted than trashed. We are optimistic these changes to their program will increase the amount of recyclable material collected. And, that the addition of food and beverage cartons will create additional opportunities for the residents of San Francisco to make recycling an even bigger part of their lives, helping their city on the journey to zero waste.


We look forward to watching how the city and its residents will further incorporate innovation into their recycling efforts. While simply accepting these cartons in their program is a major step for San Francisco, there is still much to look forward to in the future. With that in mind, we look forward to showing the city’s residents the role that carton recycling can play in bettering the environment in which they all live, work and play.


More information about the changes are available online at For more information about San Francisco’s zero waste policies and programs, visit