San Francisco Recycles, Reuses Majority Of Solid Waste
Recycling is part of life in San Francisco, with new statistics showing that the city kept 63 percent of all waste materials from going to the landfill in 2002, up from 52 percent the year before.
Recycling improved in many areas in 2002, with aggressive recycling and reuse of materials at construction and demolition sites accounting for the majority of the increase, the city’s Environment Department (SF Environment) said Wednesday.
Residential and commercial programs were up about three percent, according to the figures for calendar year 2002, which SF Environment just filed with the California Integrated Waste Management Board.
San Francisco generated 1,882,490 tons of waste material in 2002. Of this 702,012 tons went to landfill, San Francisco’s lowest disposal tonnage since 1995.
SF Environment says 1,180,478 tons were diverted through recycling, composting, reuse, source reduction and other efforts.
A full six percent of the tonnage collected in 2002 came from the demolition of just one complex – the Letterman Hospital in the Presidio, a project that processed 122,000 tons of concrete for recycling and reuse, making use of half the material for construction on-site.
Three of the top four recyclers identified in SF Environment’s waste stream analysis were city agencies or facilities – the Recreation and Parks Department, the Department of Public Works, and the de Young Museum.
For instance, rather than disposing of sand that blew onto the Great Highway, the Department of Public Works started using this sand to fill erosion hotspots on Ocean Beach. This added nearly one percentage point of waste diversion.
“San Francisco’s commitment to recycling is truly remarkable,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom, congratulating businesses, residents, Norcal Waste Systems, and SF Environment.
“Recycling is tied directly to the economy, so the more construction we have going on, the more tonnage we can expect to recycle,” observed SF Environment Director Jared Blumenfeld.
“If construction goes down we may see a drop in our recycling numbers next year, but the important thing is to keep our core recycling and composting programs moving in the right direction, as well as capture everything available in the construction realm.”
San Francisco’s core recycling programs, including the “Fantastic Three” three cart recycling program, are increasingly popular. More San Franciscans are using the composting collection program for food scraps and yard trimmings, with about 60,000 tons collected in 2002 double that of 2001. This program, the most successful of its kind in the nation, now serves nearly 150,000 residences and over 2,000 businesses.
“Residents and businesses alike are utilizing the improved recycling programs including the color-coded carts,” said Mike Sangiacomo, president and CEO of Norcal Waste Systems. “Recycle Central at Pier 96 and our new construction material recycling facility give San Francisco the ability to effectively sort recyclables and grow core programs by three percent over last year.”
State law requires cities and counties to file recycling statistics with the California Integrated Waste Management Board. San Francisco has already met and surpassed the state mandated 50 percent recycling, and is focused on attaining the 75 percent goal the Board of Supervisors adopted in 2002.
Mayor Newsome, who sat on the Board of Supervisors for that vote, expressed support for “mandatory recycling” to achieve the 75 percent recycling target by 2010. The mayor would “hold manufacturers accountable for the environmental impacts of their products and packaging,” he said.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.