A body found Friday by employees of a Petaluma waste disposal center apparently was dumped there by a refuse truck, a sheriff's spokesman said.
The grim discovery at North Bay Corp. on Petaluma Boulevard South was reported at about 1:50 p.m., Lt. Tim Duke said.
Detectives believe the remains may be that of a homeless man who might have crawled into a recycling bin to escape the cold.
Workers sifting through a pile of refuse in a recycling bay uncovered the fully clothed body, Duke said.
Deputies identified him as a Sonoma County resident but would not release his name until his family could be notified.
The cause of death was not known.
Duke said it could have been an accidental death but investigators would not rule out the possibility of foul play.
The man had suffered facial injuries that could have come during transport, Duke said.
"We're tracking the routes of the trucks that dump here," Duke said.
He said one possibility is the man had used a recycling container as shelter. Overnight temperatures around Sonoma County this week have dropped below freezing.