SF Recycling Law: Don't Throw Away That Banana

By Neetal Parekh on October 29, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A new recycling law in San Francisco will affect the way the City's residents take out the trash.  Literally. The ordinance requires residents, businesses, restaurants, and apartment complexes to separate food waste from trash.  The food waste must then be composted.

San Francisco already composts more than 500 tons per day, keeping 72% of its garbage out of landfills through recycling of cans, bottles, construction material, and cooking oil.  The new law would be a step in reaching San Francisco's aggressive recycling goal of having no garbage diverted to landfills within the next decade.  Zero waste by 2020. That is the plan.

How can residents and businesses comply with the recycling law?

Residents must retain a green compost bin, in addition to existing green recycling bins. 

How will San Francisco enforce the new recycling law?

City officials have said that a fine can be imposed for noncompliance.

Are other cities requiring composting?

Seattle introduced a similar law in April 2009.  The Seattle law applies to residents but, for now, exempts businesses, restaurants, and apartment complexes.

Eyes will be on the west coast to see how the new compost laws impact landfills and how convenient they are for residents to follow. And, if you are in a part of the country that thinks recycling is optional, it may be time to up your game.

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