One of the goals of a sustainable city is to effectively manage material flows into and out of the city. Garbage, or what environmental engineers call solid waste, presents some of the most difficult challenges to urban sustainability. San Francisco may well be on the way to achieving their goal of “zero waste,” or to divert all of its garbage away from landfills. Currently, San Francisco diverts 80% of its waste away from landfills.
According to New York Times reporter Matt Richtel: “San Francisco also has a world-class reputation for its composting processes, which turns food waste into fine, coffee-like grounds that is sent to farms as fertilizer.” And he observes that San Francisco is the “Silicon Valley of recycling.”
The city and county of San Francisco’s SF Environment department has set a goal of zero waste by 2020. That formerly future-sounding date is just four years away. According to the department, about half of the waste now placed in non-recycle bins could be recycled, which would drive the waste diversion rate to 90%.