San Fran’s Compost Crackdown

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has championed the city"s latest recycling efforts—diverting compost from trash.

Homeowners living in San Francisco who dump their leftover spaghetti in with the regular trash could someday face fines of $100. Last week the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco passed new mandatory recycling and composting rules, signed into law by Mayor Gavin Newsom on June 23, which will require all residences and businesses to divert trash into three designated containers—a blue one for recyclables, a black one for regular trash and a new green one for compost. The composting requirement adds to the city’s already strict recycling policies—they currently divert 72% of residents" 2.1 million tons of yearly waste—and get closer to their goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2020. A Department of the Environment survey found that 35% of trash that went to landfills in San Francisco was compostable and 31% recyclable.

There is a moratorium on the fines (which can run as high as $1,000 for large businesses and multiunit buildings) until 2011 to let residents get used to the new system. Mayor Newsom has championed the ordinance saying, "By collaborating with all of our stakeholders, businesses, colleagues, and citizens, we can build on our success and continue to lead the nation in recycling.”

San Francisco’s recycling efforts are top in the nation—and the city’s even had some success in regards to using compost. The New York Times reports that: "The city already composts 400 tons of food scraps a day, 90% of which goes to enriching the soil of vineyards in Napa and Sonoma Counties."

Sources: Inhabitat ; The New York Times; San Francisco Mayor’s Office