Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance

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Did you know that we generate 21.5 million tons of food residuals annually? That’s a lot of wasted food. But according to, if this food waste were composted instead of being sent to landfills, the resulting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking more than two million cars off the road. We all have learned about the importance of recycling cans, bottles, and paper but food waste has been overlooked until recently. On October 21, 2009, San Francisco made it illegal to throw orange peels, coffee grounds and grease-stained pizza boxes in the trash. I believe that this ordinance to help reduce waste is positive and should be considered in other major cities. First, I’d like to talk to you about what exactly the law is and how it is enforced. Second, I want to discuss the benefits of compost recycling. And last I want to talk about how other major cities can adopt this type of recycling to reduce their own waste.

The San Francisco Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance states, “All persons in San Francisco must source their refuse into recyclables, compostables, and trash, and place each type of refuse in a separate container designated to that type of refuse. No person may mix recyclables, compostables or trash, or deposit refuse of one type in a collection container designated for another type of refuse…” Basically, the legislation calls for every residence and business in the city to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost and black for trash. You may be wondering how San Francisco can enforce this new law. Well, according to, residences and businesses are required to subscribe and pay for adequate trash, recycling and composting service. Any property owner or manager who fails to maintain and pay for adequate trash, recycling, and composting service is subject to liens, fines, and other fees. In addition, the ordinance mandates collectors to notify...
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