SF Acheives 69% Recycling

(April 25, 2007)


San Francisco Acheives 69 percent Recycling Rate, Moves Closer to Goal of 75 Precent Recycling by 2010

$2.1 Million solar array also added to Recycle Central at Pier 96

330,000 kilowatt hours of solar power now used annually to sort bottles, cans and paper

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-Recycling is simply part of life in San Francisco, with new statistics showing that the city kept 69 percent of all waste-stream materials from going to the landfill, up from 67 percent the year before. The most significant gains were in the areas of commercial recycling, and the collection of compostable food scraps and yard trimmings.

"San Francisco shows other big cities how recycling is done," said Mayor Gavin Newsom. "But we can't rest on our laurels. Our goal is to recycle 75 percent by 2010, and to accomplish that we still need residents and businesses to take full advantage of composting and recycling programs."

The figures, compiled by the City's Environment Department (SF Environment) and approved by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, show that San Francisco generated 1,978,748 tons of waste material in 2005. Of this, 664,033 tons went to landfill, while 1,367,013 tons were diverted through recycling, composting, reuse, source reduction and other efforts. The state credits San Francisco with diverting over 52,000 tons of material into biomass energy generators, but does not count this towards generation.

SF Environment recently conducted a study to determine what San Franciscans are still throwing into their black, curbside trash bins, as a means of targeting public outreach efforts to improve recycling. The study found that over two-thirds of the landfill-bound material was recyclable, with nearly 40 percent consisting of mixed compostables, 15 percent recyclable paper, and 15 percent other mixed recyclables.

"If we were to capture all of the compostables that are currently going to the landfill, we'd have a 78 percent recycling rate," said SF Environment Director Jared Blumenfeld. "The recently adopted ordinance requiring supermarkets and drugstores to distribute compostable bags will help us drive these numbers up, since residents can put messy food waste into the bag, tie it off, and drop it neatly into the green cart."

S.F. Recycling & Disposal, Inc - a Norcal Waste company - sorts bottles, cans and paper at Recycle Central on Pier 96. Earlier this year, the roof at Recycle Central was fitted with 21,000 square feet of new solar panels.

The $2.1 million project, installed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's Power Enterprise, generates about 330,000 kilowatt hours of power annually. That energy helps power mechanical conveyers, sorting and baling equipment, making Recycle Central the first recycling sorting facility in the nation to run on its own clean solar power.

"The new Recycle Central solar system is another example of how San Francisco is a leader in clean energy," said Barbara Hale, SFPUC Assistant General Manager for Power. "The SFPUC is working steadily to grow clean, renewable energy resources to meet more of our municipal electrical needs."

"The solar array on the roof of Recycle Central provides up to 30 percent of the facility's energy needs. That reduces carbon emissions by offsetting the demand for energy from power plants and should inspire all of us to recycle even more of our waste. With everyone's help, the city can achieve its goal of 75 percent diversion by 2010," said Mike Sangiacomo, President and CEO of Norcal Waste Systems, Inc., parent to the garbage and recycling companies serving San Francisco.