San Francisco law mandates residential waste separation
The most comprehensive recycling law in the nation went
into effect in San Francisco in October. People who do
not properly sort their garbage will get warnings and
could be subject to fines.
Everyone in San Francisco is now required, by law, to
have three different recycling bins – black for trash,
blue for recycling and green for composting things like
coffee grinds, egg shells and last night’s leftovers.
San Franciscans generally do pretty well with the blue
bins to recycle cans, bottles and paper. The new law
is an aggressive push to force every resident and business
to use the green bins to compost food scraps.
“It’s helping us keep things out of landfills and it
also returns nutrients to the soil and helps prevent
global warming,” San Francisco Department of the Environment
spokesperson Jean Walsh said.
The city says it already diverts more than 70 percent
of its waste from landfills. The goal is to send nothing
there by the year 2020, so the green bins are key.
More than 100 new bins are being delivered to homes and
offices every day and outreach workers are going door
to door to educate customers.
“We often hear concerns about odor and bugs; that’s really
a false phobia, there are lots of ways to handle food
scraps in the kitchen or at work, put it in a paper bag
or a compostable bag and close it up and at the end of
the day toss it in a green cart,“ garbage-collection
company Recology spokesperson Robert Reed said.
Reed estimates about one-third of the city’s apartment
buildings, half the homes, most restaurants and even
high rise offices are on board. Those who do not get
with the program face fines starting at $100 dollars,
but the emphasis these first few months is on education.
The city says there will not be such a thing as garbage
cops, inspectors lifting lids to see if residents correctly
sorted their trash. They will focus first on making sure
everyone has ordered the bins and signed up for the program.