San Francisco Gets Tough on Recycling

Hundreds of San Francisco’s largest commercial and residential buildings could be hit with daily fines if they fail to recycle properly. There was a “zero-waste” established in 2003 where recycling became mandatory in San Francisco in 2009.

But Supervisor Ahsha Safai revealed to SF Examiner that San Francisco will fail to hit its goal of sending no more waste to the landfill by the end of 2020.

60% of the waste San Francisco sends to landfill could otherwise be recycled.

“We will not achieve that goal by 2020. That has a price to consumers. That has a price to ratepayers. It has a price to our environment,” Safai said.

Places like the Ferry Building, AT&T Park and large apartment sites like Parkmerced, and some 600 buildings, including “some of the largest multifamily residential apartment buildings” that generate 30 cubic yards or more of refuse weekly are on the spotlight at the moment.

Legislation was introduced last week to give the Department of the Environment to inspect these buildings at least once every two years. “If their garbage is not sorted enough,” Department of the Environment spokesperson Charles Sheehan told SF Examiner, “the threshold will be determined by the department if the proposal is approved — they would get a warning notice. If the site remains non-compliant after nine months, they could be hit with fines of up to $1,000 per day.”

There is a solution, however, he added, “They could have those fines waived if they hire what’s called a “zero-waste facilitator,” defined as a person or business that has the experience to sort waste: in other words, janitorial services. They would have to hire the “zero-waste facilitator” within 45-days and contract the service for at least two years.”

Recology, The City’s contracted garbage company, offers customers three bins to properly recycle. Blue bins for things like bottles and cans, green bins for compostable items like food and black bins for non-recyclable items that go to the landfill. Anything tossed into the black bins, even if it is recyclable, is not sorted by Recology and will end up in the landfill.

In 2000, San Francisco sent 872,731 tons of waste to the landfill, which decreased to 428,048 tons in 2012. In 2016, that has increased to 580,992 tons.

Safai also said he plans to introduce legislation to combat the amount of construction debris that is illegally being dumped off in the landfill and not properly recycled.

Source: SF Examiner

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