San Francisco, CA – Refuse collection has been mandatory in San Francisco since the 1930s, so perhaps it came as no surprise when the nation’s leader in recycling passed a mandatory recycling and compost ordinance on June 9, but San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom still commended the Board of Supervisors for its passage of the ordinance.
Mayor Newsom’s ordinance, co-sponsored by Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly, which passed on its first reading with a vote of 9-2, requires residential and commercial business owners to sign up for recycling and composting services. The ordinance will require all residences and businesses to participate in the city’s recycling and composting services, making San Francisco the first city to require collection of compostable materials.
“San Francisco has the best recycling and composting programs in the nation, and we’ve already attained an impressive, and first in the nation, 72 percent recycling rate because of them,” said Mayor Newsom. “I am pleased with the leadership the Board of Supervisors has demonstrated on this important legislation. By collaborating with all of our stakeholders, businesses, colleagues, and citizens, we can build on our success and continue to lead the nation in recycling.”
The primary goal of the ordinance, according to Newsom, is to get recycling and composting happening in buildings that are not currently using the city’s recycling and composting services. “Many tenants want to recycle and compost,” said Newsom, “but the building does not offer the service. We’re going to change that.”
Newsom estimates that if all recyclable and compostable materials, which currently slip through the city’s fingers, ending up in a landfill, were caught by the programs, San Francisco’s rate would soar from 70 percent to 90 percent.
The ordinance specifies no fines. Newsom commented that cities with mandatory recycling and fines rarely assess such fines. The primary function of fines is to heighten public awareness and encourage compliance.
The ordinance itself will be recycled again next week as it returns to the Board of Supervisors for a second reading and final vote.
Photo Credit: Shawna Scott via flickr under Creative Commons License