Trash police? SF may dig into your garbage

August 1, 2008 5:51:23 PM PDT
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing the country's first mandatory recycling and composting law and your trash could literally be inspected.

"We don't have composting in my building so I take my little compost pail and go to Real Food and dump it in their compost," says San Francisco resident Taline Dinenberg.

If Mayor Newsom has his way, Dinenberg will no longer have to travel to dump her compost. The mayor's hoping to make it mandatory for all San Francisco residents to have composting and recycling bins at their residences, and be forced to use them. If not they could be fined. The goal is to make San Francisco waste-free by 2020.

"If all the stuff going in the black cart, which is going to landfill, was put in the proper cart, either recycling or composting, we would be at 90 percent recycling rate. Today we are at 70 percent," says Jared Blumenfeld, the director of San Francisco Dept. of Environment.

While most San Francisco residents agree it's good to recycle, there is controversy around the possible fines that could reach $1000 for repeat offenders. And who is going to be responsible for enforcement? Norcal Waste Systems says its main focus is to pick up trash, not patrol it.

"It's going to impact how much time we have to spend at each location. Then you're going to need more people, more routes, more trucks. Again, we are not sworn enforcement personal. We are not trained to do that," says Norcal Waste systems spokesman Robert Reed.

The city's environmental agency says it's less about the fines and more about encouraging everyone to do their part to help the environment.

"So we're really looking at the worst offenders, the laggards. We're not looking at the average person. The average person's going to do a great job," says Blumenfeld.

Charles Dowman says residents can do a great job without the threat of a fine.

"The fines seem pretty silly as far as having someone come out and check on what you're putting in your trash," says Dowman.

The proposed legislation could go before the Board of Supervisors next month, but if it is passed, it most likely won't become law until next year.


Load Comments