Mayor to Cap Recycling Fines at $100

(August 7, 2008)

The fines floated in Mayor Gavin Newsom's mandatory recycling law won't be so steep after all. Today Newsom directed the Department of the Environment to cap residential recycling fines at $100.

"The point here is to boost our recycling rate to above 90 percent," said Newsom. "We don't need outrageous fines to do that."

Newsom said that cities with have mandatory recycling and fines, such as Seattle, rarely assess such fines. He stressed that fines serve primarily to heighten public awareness and encourage compliance.

Newsom said a primary goal of the mandatory recycling ordinance is to get recycling and composting pickup in buildings where it is not currently provided.

"Many apartment dwellers want to recycle," said Newsom, "but the building does not offer the service. We're going to change that."

Newsom said that if all of the recyclable and compostable materials currently going to landfills were put in blue and green carts, San Francisco's recycling rate would soar from 70 percent to 90 percent.

Officials at the city's Department of the Environment explained that the $500-$1,000 fines referenced in news reports were simply "place-holder" numbers in a draft bill. They said fines higher than $100 may still apply to businesses and to landlords of large apartment buildings who refuse to offer recycling and composting opportunities to tenants when feasible.

The bill is expected to be introduced to the city's board of supervisors this fall.