It's Criminal Not to Compost: Mayor Newsom on Compulsory Composting

A home compost heap photo

Mayor Newsom Speaks Out on Nation's First Mandatory Composting Law
I love compost - I really do. I'm hard pushed to think of one single practice that does more for the planet. From sequestering carbon to preventing methane emissions to reducing landfill waste to promoting soil fertility - it's insane that composting is not more widespread. As Brian noted the other day in his post on San Francisco's new recycling laws, the city, which is already famous for its city-wide collection of organic waste, is taking a step further. Mayor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that makes composting of food waste compulsory for all residents and businesses. In a blog post over at Greenopolis, Mayor Newsom sets out the thinking behind the new mandatory composting legislation. The idea, says Newsom, is part of efforts to achieve some lofty goals set by the city a number of years back - reducing waste to landfill 70% by 2010, and 100% by 2020. While that might sound impossible for some cities, San Francisco seems to be a recyclers paradise - just check out this slideshow of a San Francisco dump for an idea of how much we love this city's progressive attitude to waste.

According to Mayor Newsom, over two-thirds of the garbage city residents are currently throwing away could be composted. The new laws will require every resident and business to either partake in the city's organic waste collection, or to compost their own food scraps, and as Brian noted previously - those not complying could be slapped with a $500 fine. The result, says Newsom, should be a huge boost to the environment:

Composting food scraps produces little to no methane because there is sufficient oxygen in the process. And using the resulting compost reduces greenhouse gases by returning carbon to the soil, increasing plant growth, and reducing emissions associated with chemical fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation. Recent studies show that farming one acre of land using conventional industrial methods releases 3,700 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere each year. Farmed sustainably, with compost and cover crops, that same acre will put 12,000 pounds of carbon back into the earth.

Given the magnitude of the climate issue, and the sheer lunacy of taking a potentially valuable resource and turning it into polution, it should be criminal not to compost. Thankfully, in San Francisco at least, it now is.

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