Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mandatory Composting

San Francisco has led the way in the U.S. for curbside collection of organics. In 1999 the City and County of San Francisco rolled out its residential three-stream curbside program as a pilot project. Often referred to as the Fantastic Three, the bins are for trash, commingled recyclables, and compostables (yard trimmings and all food waste, including meat and dairy).
They finished expanding the service citywide to all 150,000 households in 2004 (130,000 single-family and 20,000 buildings with five or fewer units), and now are tackling multi-family apartment buildings.

I wrote an article about how a hauler in San Francisco promotes the program using 3D images on its collection trucks to communicate the value of source separated organics: "Food Waste Diversion Promoted On The Street."

San Francisco recently passed an ordinance making source separation of organic waste and recyclables mandatory. This is groundbreaking! While several other cities require recycling service and participation, San Francisco is the first in the U.S. to require the collection of food scraps and other compostables. This move is in part a response to findings from study conducted by the city's Department of Environment, which found that 36 percent of what San Francisco sends to landfills is still compostable (primarily food scraps), and 31 percent is still recyclable (mostly paper). This new ordinance will help move San Francisco forward to its goal of becoming a Zero Waste city by 2020.

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