It was one small step for the compost truck and one big step for San Francisco on Tuesday as The City’s green-waste collection company hauled away its millionth ton of biodegradable waste.
City officials, representatives of Recology Waste Zero and hopeful gulls stood by as four green bins filled with a potpourri of restaurant leftovers spilled into a Recology waste transport truck parked on the wharf behind Scoma’s testaurant, a longtime participant in The City’s composting program.
Alexa Kielty of the Department of the Environment said composting helps build a healthy soil, reduces greenhouse gas production and in turn helps produce healthy food.
“And it’s the law,” she said, noting that mandatory composting ordinances took effect in San Francisco in October 2009.
By no coincidence, Recology is now diverting from landfills more of The City’s waste than ever before, according to Mike Sangiacomo, Recology’s president and CEO. He said 78 percent of material collected citywide in curbside bins is either composted, recycled or reused — the highest in the nation.
In Scoma’s kitchen, chef and buyer Kelly Bennett keeps several large green bins in the prep room alongside a pint-size black trash basket, which receives just 5 percent of the restaurant’s waste. He said he remembered when Scoma’s first joined Recology’s compost collection program eight years ago. At the time, Bennett supplied his staff with a small green waste bucket to accompany the trash
“But we learned quickly that what we needed was a big green bin and a tiny black bin,” Bennett said.
San Francisco’s Department of the Environment aims to reach a “zero waste” goal by the year 2020. Sangiacomo said it took 15 years to reach the 1 million ton landmark.
“And we think maybe we can reach the second millionth ton in a five-year time frame,” he said.
Out of the trash
300 Trucks in Recology’s San Francisco fleet
600 Tons of compost generated by San Franciscans every day
1M Tons of green waste generated by San Francisco’s composting program since 1996
32M Tons of compostable waste that all Americans send to the landfill every year
200 Local farms and vineyards that utilize San Francisco compost
Sources: Recology, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency