600 Tons of Compost Collected A Day?! How San Francisco Deals With It All (Video)


Image via video screengrab

In October of 2009, San Francisco started a mandatory composting law as part of its effort to divert waste from the landfill and eventually reach its goal of 100% waste diversion. It found immediate success as businesses and residents began throwing their food waste into special green bins. But in a city the size of San Francisco, how does the city deal with 600 tons of food waste collected every single day? This video from Quest details the great plan. Kate Szrom of Quest writes:

Every day, San Francisco's compostables - all 600 tons of them - are hauled away from the city. I found myself asking, "Where does it all go?"

While looking for the answers, I found agronomist Bob Shaffer. Shaffer started out as a farmer, but soon realized that he was more interested in the soil than in what grew out of it. That led to a career in making and applying compost. He now works with Recology, the company that composts San Francisco's green waste, at their composting facility in Vacaville and with farmers who want to improve their crops.

Clients include Old Hill Ranch in Glen Ellen, which boasts 100-year-old vines in Sonoma's wine county. Compost from Recology's program will be applied here and other vineyards like it in the fall. Eventually the food that San Francisco discards returns to the city and other locations as fresh produce and wines.

Check out the impressive process by which food scraps move from kitchens in San Francisco to a facility in Vacaville to farms.

The program as a whole is impressive and a great model for reducing waste in other cities with nearby organic farms that can use rich compost. Even if your city doesn't have a plan for food waste collection, you can still cut down on the amount that goes to landfill by starting your own compost bin or pile. Check out the links below to get started!

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Tags: California | Farming | Zero Waste

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