San Francisco On Its Way to Zero Waste

photo by Simon Tong

photo by Simon Tong

San Francisco has long taken seriously its goal to become the greenest city in the US. It started when then-Director for the San Francisco Department of Environment Jared Blumenfeld crafted a slate of environmental ordinances in 2009 designed to get the city to zero waste by 2020. It appears now that San Francisco is on-track.

PBS details the city’s recycling efforts, which include separating out not only plastics, glass, and cardboard, but also compostable matter, which then is used to create nutrient rich soil for the nearby Napa vineyards. San Francisco keeps 80% of all its garbage out of landfills.

A collateral benefit is added jobs. Turns out recycling is more labor-intensive than dumping trash into a landfill.

Former State legislator Quentin Kopp says that Recology, the private company that handles San Francisco’s recycling, has inflated its numbers, and that the city just goes along with them because they make city officials look good. But Mayor Ed Lee says that the City and the State both audit the process.

Recycling isn’t free. Citizens pay on-average $28/month, and Recology want to raise that rate. But there’s no doubt that San Francisco is more garbage free than other cities, where the recycle rate is closer to 35%. And it’s well on its way to zero waste by 2020.

Watch San Francisco on Track to Become Zero Waste City on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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