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Recycling Crusade: San Francisco Moves Toward Zero Waste

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The San Francisco Department of the Environment’s list of materials allowed in blue recycling bins has been expanded to include plastic bags, paper coffee cups, ice cream containers, milk or juice cartons and textiles; it is also downsizing refuse bins. It’s all part of a shift to using dual-compartment trucks to collect refuse from black bins and organic waste from green bins, with a dedicated truck for recyclables. A national leader in recycling, the city is one of the first to attempt a zero-waste target year of 2020.

California has a goal of 75 percent recycling by 2020, having achieved a 44 percent rate in 2016. Los Angeles is making progress with a new commercial waste recycling system. Washington, D.C., has also expanded its list of accepted materials for recycling bins, but still doesn’t include plastic bags. With recent improvements to automated and optical sorting technology, some companies are becoming more accommodating about what they will accept.


This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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