San Francisco Leads the Pack in Recycling, Waste Diversion

San Francisco -- The City by the Bay has reported that its recycling and waste diversion rates increased nearly 10 percent between 1999 and 2000, according to a report filed by the state's Department of the Environment and sent to the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB).

San Francisco generated 1,621,110 tons of waste material in 2000. Figures for 2000 show that 872,731 tons were sent to landfills, while 748,379 tons were diverted through recycling and re-use efforts, representing a 46-percent diversion rate. The diversion rate for 1999 was 42 percent, which according to the report is a 9.5 percent increase in diversion from landfills.

The city was able to increase its diversion rate partially through its Fantastic Three program, which provides three carts for curbside pickup to residents -- one for food and yard scraps; one for paper, cans and bottles; and one for non-recyclable waste. The food scrap and yard trimming collection offered through the program is the first of its kind in the city.

San Francisco also has more than 50,000 households and 1,000 businesses participating in its food recycling program. As incentive to recycle, the city provides a 25-percent discount to restaurants and hotels for their pickup of food scraps and other compostable items.

Overall, Department of the Environment statistics show that the city diverts more than 37,000 tons of organic waste per year, and its parks and open spaces divert 20,000 tons of park landscape trimmings, logs and other organic materials per year.

State law requires that cities in California recycle, re-use or divert at least half of waste stream material from landfills by 2000. And based on its success so far, its request for a 3-year extension probably will be granted by the CIWMB.