The U.S. Post Offices in San Francisco are stepping up efforts to recycle after the agency was found to have among the worst waste rates among post offices nationwide.
An internal 2014 audit found more than half of the agency’s garbage that went to the landfill was recyclable, triggering an intervention by city officials with the Department of the Environment. But two years later, San Francisco’s postal service’s boost in recycling is drawing praise.
The Environment Commission is expected to vote today on a resolution commending the U.S. Postal Service San Francisco District for collaborating with The City to improve the recycling rate in 2015.
The 2014 audit was troublesome for a city striving to have no waste go into the landfill — and instead be recycled or composted — after 2020. San Francisco also requires businesses and residents to properly sort their trash, though that law doesn’t apply to federal or state agencies.
But since the Inspector General audit was released, the Department of Environment has worked with the U.S. Post Office to improve the recycling rates. The agency has decreased landfill service by an average of 70 percent in its 31 Post Office locations in San Francisco, saving more than $200,000 annually, according to the department.
This was achieved through training 3,500 postal workers, relocating or adding some 300 new recycling and compostable containers in all locations, and improved signage.
“It’s a great turnaround story,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Department of Environment.
He said the department was “just as surprised” as anyone over the audit’s findings.
“The City has a zero waste goal by 2020,” Rodriguez said. “It takes everyone participating.”
The audit found that “an average of 65 percent of the trash in San Francisco District dumpsters was recyclable because management did not make recycling a priority and did not implement procedures to backhaul at all designated hubs.” The recyclable material was mostly waste mail, discarded lobby mail, and office paper, cardboard and plastic.
“From fiscal years 2012 to 2013, the San Francisco District was among the highest in average monthly waste disposal costs ($112,049) and among the lowest in average monthly recycling revenue ($3,312),” the audit said.
Bay Area Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz said the agency has “been pushing sustainability for many years now” and is “very pleased” to be part to be a part of The City’s Zero Waste efforts.