compost.jpgSan Francisco’s recycling company today celebrated a milestone in its composting program, having now collected one million tons of organic materials in the city.

Representatives from the company, Recology, joined city officials at Scoma’s Restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf today to mark the achievement and discuss the benefits of composting.

Since Recology started its composting program in San Francisco in 1996, the city has increased the amount of food scraps and plant cuttings it composts to more than 600 tons per day, more than any other city in North America, company officials said.

Recology President Mike Sangiacomo said although it took 15 years to reach the first million tons, which equals two billion pounds, the company is on track to collect the next million tons in the next five years.

Sangiacomo said the company chose Scoma’s as the site of the celebration because the restaurant was one of the first major customers for the composting program and currently diverts more than 95 percent of its waste away from landfills.

“It’s a remarkable example of what you can do if you make up your mind to do something better for the environment,” he said.

Alexa Kielty from the San Francisco Department of the Environment said “composting is one of the best things we can do for the environment” because it increases soil fertility and reduces pollution.

Recology officials estimate that the program has generated more than 600,000 cubic yards of nutrient-rich compost and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 305,944 metric tons, the equivalent of all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for two years.

In 2009, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation making composting mandatory for all city residents and businesses.

Since then, the city’s diversion rate for waste has increased from 72 percent to about 78 percent currently, Sangiacomo said.

San Francisco has a goal to reach zero waste by 2020.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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