SF Composts More Than 620,000 Tons of Food and Other Scraps

SF Composts More Than 620,000 Tons of Food and Other Scraps

Courtesy of Recology

San Francisco businesses and residents have composted more than 620,000 tons of food, yard debris and other scraps since 1996 through the city’s green cart program, says Recology, the recycling company that serves the town.

The processed material is now used at almost 200 Northern California vineyards and farms, and is heralded as part of a "food-waste-to-fine-wine" effort on the part of San Francisco, the recycling firm and vineyards that produce grapes for several well-known brands.

By composting all that material the city has:


  • Avoided creating 137,000 tons of methane gas, which is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Sequestered (put back into the soil) 18,400 metric tons of CO2 -- an amount equivalent to keeping nearly 3,600 cars off the road, the firm estimated.
  • Created a total CO2E benefit (as a result of methane avoided and carbon sequestered) of 155,000 tons. That’s equal to reforesting 35 square miles of sustainable forest for 23 years or offsetting emissions from all vehicles crossing the region’s Bay Bridge for 311 days. (An estimated 280,000 vehicles use the bridge daily, more than twice the amount using the Brooklyn Bridge each day.)

{related_content}Recology announced San Francisco’s composting stats during Thanksgiving week and issued a reminder — particularly apt for the winter season of holiday feasts — that food scraps and other compostable material be set aside for composting rather than hurled into garbage bins.

“We should never throw peelings, leftovers, coffee grounds, or anything else we can compost in the trash,” Recology CEO Mike Sangiacomo. “Instead place all materials that can be composted in a green collection cart; that is a direct and highly effective way to help protect the environment.”  

Recycling and composting became mandatory
in San Francisco on October 21. The city has a goal of diverting 75 percent of waste from landfill disposal by 2010, and achieving zero waste by 2020.

In setting the bar higher for the town, waste experts estimate that another 190,000 tons of food waste could be composted by the San Francisco’s businesses and residents.

Recology, renamed from Norcal Waste Systems Inc. this past April, provides recycling services to more than 600,000 households and 60,000 commercial clients in the western U.S.

Image of finished compost courtesy of Recology.