Newsom wants mandatory recycling in SF

April 14, 2009 6:57:00 PM PDT
San Francisco has the highest recycling rate of any large city in the nation, but the mayor wants everyone to participate. Gavin Newsom first proposed the idea last year, and has now re-introduced: mandatory recycling.

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It could become against the law in San Francisco to not recycle.

Everyone in the city would have to separate their garbage and put it in the right bin separated by colors:

  • Black for most trash
  • Blue for bottles, cans and paper
  • Green for food scraps and yard trimmings

    Garbage collectors will be watching.

    "I don't like people going through my trash. I just recently moved here and I don't understand the system of trash collecting yet," said San Francisco resident Phyllis Smith.

    The first couple of times you make mistakes you'll receive a friendly reminder. Garbage collectors are already hanging them on bins, telling people what they're doing wrong.

    "We're supportive of it. This is a city policy," said Robert Reed from Sunset Scavengers.

    "But the city is expecting your folks to be enforcers," said ABC7's Carolyn Tyler.

    We're not the garbage police and were not going to be the garbage police. We're here to help our customers," said Robert Reed from Sunset Scavengers.

    "If I need to be educated on what's proper recycling material, I think that would be great," said a SaN Francisco resident.

    If you don't figure it out after repeated warning, collectors could stop picking up your garbage. You could be fined up to $100 for each violation.

    But the city says homeowners aren't the main target -- multi-unit apartments and commercial buildings are.

    "One of the most common calls we hear is from tenants saying how do I get my landlord to offer the program. they don't want to do it," said Marc Westlund from San Francisco Department of the Environment.

    He says landlords who don't have containers would face fines, but won't be penalized if their tenants don't properly recycle. Still most landlords are opposed.

    "It's good to encourage these things, but it's not so good to enact and create governmental regulations to require these things and to fine people who don't comply," said David Wasserman from the San Francisco Apartment Association.

    San Francisco has a goal to recycle 75 percent of its waste by next year. The mayor's measure could make a difference if it's passed by city supervisors.

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