Thirteen years back, San Francisco set a revolutionary goal: recycle 100% of its waste by 2020. With four years to go, this city of 850,000 souls is not far off the feat. It has given itself the means … and it pays a lot of money!
To be so powerful, San Francisco developed the Pier 86: a gigantic hangar of 20 000m2 dedicated to recycling. Through optimal mechanization and a well-oiled organization, this behemoth manages to sort the 1,000 tons of garbage daily which are brought to him.
This is a big job … but it is lucrative work: cardboard and paper are sold to packing plants in China and Vietnam. As for glass and cans, they are purchased by the local smelter to start a new life.
But that’s not all. Even organic waste has increased in value. Their extensive collection allows each day to produce 650 tons of compost purchased by the local farmers (including by the famous vineyards of California).
In short, since San Francisco realized that it was sitting on a gold mine, it does not want to see any waste escape. To date, 80% of them are recycled, or resold as compost. And 100% are already in the crosshairs.
And to achieve this absolute record, all means are good. Individuals who do not bend to sort their waste can receive hefty fines: between 100 and 1000 US dollars! And renting the black bin (that intended for non-recyclable waste) is much more expensive and people are opting for the smaller model.
Organic waste is good for the environment, it brings in money, it creates jobs
The deliberate policy of San Francisco is full of virtues: it’s good for the environment (reduction of CO2), it brings in money and in addition, it creates jobs: 178 people are employed on Pier 86, the recycling plant (and they are paid between 40,000 and 80,000 US dollars a year!)
To say that all this has started thirteen years ago and this performance is only due to a firm and irrevocable decision… On the way to 100%! Provided that San Francisco will inspire you!