You may feel a bit beleaguered hearing so much about The City By the Bay and its green initiatives lately, but San Francisco never fails to deliver. Most recently, the city has enacted Universal Recycling and Composting Ordinance, requiring residents and businesses to start composting their food waste.
Continuing to increase the city’s already high recycling rate of 72 percent, the food refuse is turned into compost, which is then sold to Bay Area farms and vineyards. San Francisco is also hoping its new three-bin system (every residence and business will have a blue bin for recycling, green for compost and black for trash) will help the city reach its goal of zero-waste by 2020.
Jared Blumenfeld, the city’s environmental officer, says its commercial composting efforts are already processing about half of the city’s food waste, which is more than 500 tons per day, as many people have already been participating in the program.
“You can see a lot of lettuce, tomatoes, old apples, rotten cabbages,” Blumenfeld told NPR. “You get a kind of vivid picture here of what’s being thrown away.”
Blumenfeld also added that composting is the “single most effective” action that can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. right now.
There is a moratorium on potential fines (which could range from $100 to $1,000) until July 2011, as the city allows residents and businesses time to adjust to the new system.
“As we’ve always promised, we are not going to start off fining people,” Blumenfeld told SFGate.com. “Really our focus is to make sure tenants have the tools they need to recycle.”
The Department of the Environment and collectors will also provide free consultation, container labels, signage, educational materials and other assistance to buildings looking to educate those who work and live in them, according to SFEnvironment.org, where additional information on the city’s waste management programs can also be found.