SF Attains 77 Percent Recycling

(August 27, 2010)


City's Aggressive Recycling Program Also Creating Jobs & Stimulating Growth of New "Green Economy"

San Francisco, CA--Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced that San Francisco achieved 77 percent landfill diversion rates, surpassing the goal of 75 percent landfill diversion by 2010 and setting national recycling rate records, the highest of any city in the United States. New statistics show that the City is up from 72 percent landfill diversion from the year before.

The figures compiled by the City's Environment Department for 2008 show that San Francisco diverted just over 1.6 million tons of material--double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge--through recycling, composting and re-use. Only 560,000 tons went to landfill, the lowest disposal on record.

"San Francisco is showing once again that doing good for our environment also means doing right by our economy and local job creation," said Mayor Newsom. "For a growing number of people, recycling provides the dignity of a paycheck in tough economic times. The recycling industry trains and employs men and women in local environmental work that can't be outsourced and sent overseas, creating ten times as many jobs as sending material to landfills."

Recology, the City's primary recycling company, employs over 1,000 people in San Francisco, and in the past few years it has added 118 new employees to sort recyclables and monitor the collection routes in order to meet San Francisco's aggressive recycling goals.

"Working with the City and our customers we are making great strides to increase recycling and reduce landfill disposal," said Recology CEO Mike Sangiacomo. "We provide more recycling and composting programs than any other city in the country, and the city's diversion rate shows those programs are highly effective."

Data collected since the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance went into effect last October indicates that the trend of increased diversion, coupled with dramatically reduced landfill, puts San Francisco at the forefront of environmental stewardship. Leading by example, composting has increased by 45 percent, and the City is now sending nearly 600 tons of food scraps, soiled paper, and yard trimmings to Recology's compost facilities each day, up from 400 tons a year ago.

"We've beat the 75 percent goal, so now our push is to get to zero waste by 2020," observed Department of Environment Director Melanie Nutter. "If we captured everything going to landfill that can be recycled or composted in our programs, we'd have a 90 percent recycling rate, but we will need to work on the state and federal level to require that packaging and products are manufactured with minimal waste and maximum recyclability."