San Francisco residents recycled at a higher rate than any other large city in the country in 2008, according to figures released Friday by the mayor’s office.

The city’s environment department said San Francisco’s 77 percent landfill diversion rate–which includes recycling, composting and reuse of materials–not only exceeded the city’s 75 percent target, but is the highest rate of any major metropolitan city in the United States.

In 2008 — the most recent numbers available–San Francisco recycled, composted and reused more than 1.6 million tons of trash, according to the city.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said the city’s recycling efforts are not only helping the environment, but are also adding green, local jobs.

“The recycling industry trains and employs men and women in local environmental work that can’t be outsourced and sent overseas, creating 10 times as many jobs as sending material to landfills,” Newsom said in a prepared statement.

The city has an additional goal of zero waste by 2020.

“If we captured everything going to landfill that can be recycled or composted in our programs, we’d have a 90 percent recycling rate,” said Environment Director Melanie Nutter.

Nutter added that work is needed on the state and federal level to change manufacturing and packaging regulations to minimize waste and maximize recycling.

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