How to Get Rid of Cardboard Boxes in San Francisco

In the bustling city of San Francisco, millions of cardboard boxes come and go each day, serving as convenient containers for the delivery of everything from essential home items to whimsical online purchases.

But once they’ve fulfilled their purpose, we’re left with the question: how do we get rid of these boxes responsibly? San Francisco’s primary resource recovery company, Recology, offers simple and sustainable solutions.

Step 1: Flatten and Bundle Your Boxes

Residential customers with extra cardboard boxes should begin by breaking them down. Flatten the boxes to a maximum size of 2’ x 2’ x 2’, ensuring they’re as compact as possible.

Once you’ve done this, bundle the flattened cardboard together using string, or alternatively, place them in a larger box.

This simple step not only makes your discarded cardboard easier to manage, but it also enhances its recyclability, preventing it from becoming loose or windblown waste.

Step 2: Place Bundles in or Next to Your Recology Blue Cart

Once your cardboard is bundled, it’s time to put it out for collection. You have two options here. You may place the cardboard bundle either in or next to your Recology blue recycling cart at the curb.

Keep in mind, if you choose to place your bundle inside the blue cart, the lid must be fully closed at pickup. This is to ensure the cart’s contents stay secure and don’t create unnecessary litter or mess in your neighborhood.

Step 3: Contact Recology for Pickup

Close-up of logo for Recology Silicon Valley, a recycling provider in the Silicon Valley town of Mountain View, California, October 28, 2018.

Now, here’s the critical part. To guarantee pickup, contact Recology’s customer service at least one business day in advance. You can reach them by email at

Give them a heads up about your extra cardboard so they can schedule accordingly and ensure it gets picked up.

Important Note: Extra Collection Charges

It’s essential to understand that there may be additional charges when you place cardboard next to your recycling cart. This is due to the extra effort and resources needed for collection. Always ensure you’re aware of any potential additional charges before arranging pickup.

A Word on Reuse

But before you rush to rid your home of all that cardboard, consider this: reuse is one of the most efficient forms of recycling. Can that sturdy box be repurposed as storage for household items, or could your kids use it for a fun and imaginative craft project?

San Francisco is a city that thrives on creativity and sustainability, so let’s keep these values in mind as we handle our waste. We can all do our part to minimize waste and promote responsible recycling habits.

Remember, reducing, reusing, and recycling are steps we can all take to make San Francisco – and our planet – a cleaner, greener place to live. Don’t just get rid of your cardboard boxes – think of how they can serve you or your community one more time.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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