One of the goals of a sustainable city is to effectively manage material flows into and out of the city. Garbage, or what environmental engineers call solid waste, presents some of the most difficult challenges to urban sustainability. San Francisco may well be on the way to achieving their goal of “zero waste,” or to divert all of its garbage away from landfills. Currently, San Francisco diverts 80% of its waste away from landfills. According to New York Times reporter Matt Richtel: “San Francisco also has a world-class reputation for its composting processes, which turns food waste into fine, coffee-like grounds that is sent to farms as fertilizer.” And he observes that San Francisco is the “Silicon Valley of recycling.”
The city and county of San Francisco’s SF Environment department has set a goal of zero waste by 2020. That formerly future-sounding date is just four years away. According to the department, about half of the waste now placed in non-recycle bins could be recycled, which would drive the waste diversion rate to 90%. According to the department’s website:
To achieve 100 percent zero waste, SF Environment will continue to advocate for state legislation and partner with producers to develop a producer responsibility system, where producers design better products and take responsibility for the entire life-cycle of a product, including take-back and recycling.
The city’s zero waste policy includes three goals: 1. prevent waste; 2. recycle and compost; and 3. safely handle toxics. San Francisco’s unique political and social culture must be seen as a major factor contributing to this program’s success. People in that city behave as if reducing waste and recycling are important social behaviors. In contrast, New York City’s waste diversion rate is 16%. The goal is to get to zero waste by 2030. It’s a little difficult to see how that goal will be achieved. The city’s target for FY 2016 is 19%, but according to the NYC Mayor’s Management report, the actual diversion rate is anywhere from 1.2- 2.9% below target爱上海贵族宝贝