Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Garbage Police? Or Good Policy?

San Francisco approves toughest recycling law in the US
John Coté, SF Chronicle, June 10, 2009

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 Tuesday to approve the most comprehensive mandatory composting and recycling law in the country. It's an aggressive push to cut greenhouse gas emissions and have the city sending nothing to landfills or incinerators by 2020. The ordinance is expected to take effect this fall.

The legislation calls for every residence and business in the city to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost, and black for trash. Failing to properly sort your refuse could result in a fine after several warnings, but fines will likely only be levied in the most egregious cases.

Cities from Pittsburgh to San Diego have mandatory recycling. None, however, require all food waste to be composted. Seattle passed a law in 2003 requiring people to have a compost bin, but unlike San Francisco, it did not mandate that all food waste go in there.

About 36% of what San Francisco sends to landfill is compostable, and another 31% is recyclable, a comprehensive study found. By the city's count, it currently diverts 72% of its waste; the best in the nation. If recyclables and compostables going into landfills were diverted, the city's recycling rate would jump to 90%.

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