Throwing orange peels, coffee grounds and grease-stained pizza boxes in the trash will be against the law in San Francisco, and could even lead to a fine.
The Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 Tuesday to approve Mayor Gavin Newsom's proposal for the most comprehensive mandatory composting and recycling law in the country. It's an aggressive push to cut greenhouse gas emissions and have the city sending nothing to landfills or incinerators by 2020.
"San Francisco has the best recycling and composting programs in the nation," Newsom said, praising the board's vote on a plan that some residents had decried as heavy-handed and impractical. "We can build on our success."
The ordinance is expected to take effect this fall.
The legislation calls for every residence and business in the city to have three separate color-coded bins for waste: blue for recycling, green for compost and black for trash.
Failing to properly sort your refuse could result in a fine after several warnings, but Newsom and other officials say fines will only be levied in the most egregious cases.
I think if I lived there I would save some really rank crap buried in the back yard, maybe a few animal carcasses, to throw in the trash when the inspector came by to dumpster dive.
But the whole concept confuses me. There is this assumption that everything environmentalists always wanted us to do, like recycling, is automatically and without need for critical thought going to reduce CO2 emissions. But will it?
Doesn't composting increase greenhouse gas emissions vs. land filling? I have always wondered about this with Christmas tree recycling programs. If the program was really about reducing greenhouse gasses, why are we chipping the trees and spreading the chips around so they can decompose faster? Decomposition is basically just slow combustion, producing CO2 and some methane. Shouldn't we instead be shrink-wrapping the trees and burying them deep in the name of carbon sequestration?
By the way, advocates will say that recycling saves money. Well, it is not clear that it even saves the state any money but it certainly does not save you and I any. In fact, the only way people can even fool themselves into believing there is any economic benefit is to assume that the value of your and my time is $0. We are indentured servants, working for the state as trash sorters for no compensation.
Postscript: Assume there are 110 million households in the US, and each household has to spend 5 minutes a week sorting trash. And assume that the value of folk's time is $20 per hour (and I can guarantee you the marginal value of my free time is a LOT higher). This is $9.5 billion of stolen labor each year.