Thursday, June 11, 2009

SF Green City: Mandatory recycling

With the passage of a mandatory recycling ordinance, SF is implementing the toughest recycling law in the country, with a goal of being zero-waste by 2020. I don't always agree with the board of supes, but this legislation has a good heart. Easy for me to say as (1) I technically live in Oakland and (2) I'm already annoyingly militant about putting all food waste into the green bin.

By the numbers (I'm a numbers gal):
  • 31% of what SF sends to the landfill is recyclable
  • 36% of what SF sends to the landfill is compostable
  • 72% of the city's waste is currently "diverted" (doesn't go to the landfill)
  • 90% of the city's waste could be diverted, if we were better about composting and recycling
It sounds easy to make the switch, but it's not. T & I have day jobs (are you shocked that 376 and this blog don't add up to a full-time gig?), and our little SF employer has spent years begging the landlord for a real recycling program in our building. It got so bad that we were sneaking bottles and cans out of the building and leaving them by the municipal trash cans, where at least the scavengers would pick them up. Now we've implemented a pilot program that takes compost, recyclables, and paper trash. If it works for our floor, the building management will spread it out to the other tenants.

At home, it took a while before composting all the food scraps became second nature, and SF says the city will use multiple warnings (not fines) to help educate people about the new rules. What do you think? Good idea or too big brother?


  • SF Gate has more details on the new legislation (and some concerns about it).
  • describes the zero-waste goal and other city programs. Also lots of videos about SF's recycling and composting systems.
  • Planet Green runs the numbers on how much impact recycling can have
SFGL is first and foremost a product design blog, so next week we'll have some designs to make it easier to wrangle your in-house compost scraps.

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