Skip to main content

San Francisco Rolls Out EcoFinder iPhone App to Help Residents Recycle

San Francisco, which passed the first mandatory recycling and composting laws in the U.S., just last week, launches an iPhone version of the popular web-based EcoFinder tool to help residents recycle.

With the release today of San Francisco's first iPhone app based on a city data feed, recycling just got much easier for our residents.

San Franciscans already lead the nation in recycling -- in May we announced a 72 percent diversion rate of all materials going to the landfill -- but we want to do more. Last week we passed the nation's first mandatory recycling and composting laws. We've pledged to recycle 75 percent of the materials that would otherwise go to the landfill by 2010 and zero waste by 2020.

We will only reach these lofty goals together — with the help of all our residents. That's why the city's environment department (@SFEnvironment) has launched an iPhone version of the popular web-based EcoFinder tool

Residents can now find out where to recycle or properly dispose of materials using our convenient, location-based mobile application. Instead of dumping old electronics or furniture on the sidewalk, the EcoFinder iPhone app tells you where these materials should go, based on your location.

 I know that most people want to do the right thing with the unwanted materials in their lives, but they may not know, for example, how to recycle compact fluorescent bulbs which contain mercury. The EcoFinder iPhone app is part of our ongoing effort to provide residents and businesses in San Francisco with the information and tools to be environmentally responsible.

This iPhone app is a great example of San Francisco embracing the emerging philosophy of Government 2.0 — using web and mobile technologies to provide more effective processes for delivering government services. By sharing our EcoFinder database via an XML data feed, we've been able to develop the iPhone app with community partners, as well as provide accurate information to's national recycling database.

I'm pushing for this kind of innovation across my administration. Earlier this month, we launched a new application that allows residents to contact the city´s 311 Call Center via the social networking site Twitter (@SF311) to report potholes, graffiti or receive information about city services.

The opportunity to fundamentally transform government by deploying the innovation and expertise in the web and mobile industries should not be ignored by municipalities. I firmly believe that, just as San Francisco has been an environmental leader, we can help change the way cities connect with their government.

Gavin Newsom is the 42nd mayor of the city and county of San Francisco. This post is reprinted with permission from the mayor's office.

More on this topic