Composting Law Has Small Businesses Smiling

(December 16, 2010)

Supervisors David Chiu and Carmen Chu joined SF Environment in celebrating the Far East Cafe's full and early participation in San Francisco's mandatory recycling and composting program. Far East Cafe, located on Grant Street in Chinatown, has won the Commercial Recycler of the Year Award for four years in a row (2003-2006) "I want to acknowledge Bill Lee, owner of Far East Cafe, for being an excellent example of a small business that has fully embraced this composting and recycling law," said Supervisor David Chiu. Chiu added "Far East Cafe was one of the first champions of recycling and composting in the City--I commend them for being among the first to realize the benefits."

San Francisco Environment and Recology SF, they city's recycling company, provided Far East Cafe with free technical assistance and helped them recycle and compost 80% of their waste, saving $18,000 annually in trash collection expenses. Melanie Nutter, SFE Director, was on hand to talk about the program: "Recycling is now mandatory, but as the Far East Cafe has demonstrated year in and year out, recycling and composting can result in real savings for small businesses as well as managers of small and large properties. We are currently at 77% diversion citywide, but if everyone did as good a job keeping compostables and recyclables out of the landfill as Far East Cafè, we'd be at 90% diversion."

Wendy Ng, with the business recycling program at Recology, highlighted the resources her team is willing to offer businesses to help get them on the program. "We have a host of resources to help your program be successful, and at no extra charge. We offer signs and stickers, indoor bins, in-language staff trainings, and other technical assistance as needed. It's also important to realize that wherever you are in San Francisco, whether it be work, home or school, the recycling rules are the same and very easy to follow."

San Francisco's mandatory recycling and composting ordinance went into effect in October of last year, and there's been a 50% increase in composting to over 600 tons per day, up from about 400 tons when the ordinance was introduced. The number of businesses composting increased by three quarters and the number of apartment buildings composting more than tripled since that time. The mandatory recycling law is part of the City of San Francisco's broader goal of moving the City towards Zero Waste by 2020.

Most businesses can increase the amount they compost and recycle, often saving money. Many businesses and apartments have stepped up and implemented the program on their own by contacting Recology directly, while others have received assistance from SF Environment's staff, taking advantage of a number of free services the City staff visit businesses with trash service only, no composting or recycling, to help them get on board with the program and avoid possible fines from not complying with the city's new recycling law. The City and Recology offer waste assessments, help with setting up bins and collection services, free in-language training for staff, and other technical assistance to help businesses participate in the program successfully.

To take advantage these free services, businesses and property managers are encouraged to contact Recology Golden Gate at 415-626-4000

"I'm proud that the Sunset district has seen a 29% increase in diverting trash from landfill, compared to 22% citywide. This shows that all communities, including Chinese American families and businesses, are contributing to a more sustainable future," said Supervisor Carmen Chu.

Supervisor Carmen Chu concluded by saying "Recycling and composting are not only the right thing to do, but they're the smart thing to do. I encourage all small businesses to embrace the new recycling law and help us move San Francisco towards its Zero Waste goal."