Diversion of waste, which includes recycling, composting, and re-use, has increased from 35 percent in 1996, to 70 percent today, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.
Diversion accounts for 1,415,159 tons of waste, or 70 percent of the total waste stream.
"San Francisco is making it easier than ever to participate in recycling collection programs, and our new 70 percent diversion rate is proof of our commitment a zero-waste future," said Mayor Newsom.
The mayor now wants to pass a new law that will raise the rate of recycling another five percent by imposing new requirements on landlords, businesses, and event organizers.
"I want to build upon this commitment to waste reduction with legislation that will get us to a 75 percent recycling rate and ultimately support our 2010 Climate Action Plan goal," he said.
The mayor proposed legislation that may require all landlords to provide adequate recycling and composting for their tenants.
It could require businesses that sell takeout food items to allow the public to deposit small amounts of recyclables, compostables and trash in their receptacles.
Under the proposal, event organizers would have to site and manage sufficient groups of recycling, composting and trash receptacles.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom shows students at Leonard Flynn Elementary how their green waste compost becomes flowers. (Photo courtesy Office of the Mayor)
If incorrect materials are found in a receptacle - recyclables in the trash, trash in compostables - the collector shall leave a tag identifying the problem. If incorrect materials continue to be found, the collector can leave a tag and not empty the receptacle.
The measure could require that materials accepted in recycling and composting programs would be banned from the landfill transfer station.
Mayor Newsom made the announcement at Leonard Flynn Elementary School, the 100th school to join the Food to Flowers! program.
Food to Flowers! uses assemblies and standards-based curriculum to educate students about the importance of protecting nature and how composting and recycling can help.
Green and blue carts are placed in the cafeterias so students can compost and recycle during lunch.
City schools began composting with the green cart in 2000. All Food to Flowers! schools have free access to the compost that is created from the program.
Food to Flowers! is responsible for diverting 3,300 tons of solid waste a year. The program is part of the San Francisco Environment Department's award-winning School Education Program that reaches 20,000 students annually.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.