Zero Waste San Francisco Zero Waste San Francisco

This initiative works to reorganize waste management in San Francisco through the shift to a circular system. They attempt to “work upstream” and focus on the beginning of the waste cycle. Their approaches target: growers through “ugly food” campaigns; wholesale markets through links to food banks; diversion for animal feed; retail food date issues; food establishments; diversion of grease and fat; consumer behaviours; information technology; composting; policy on labels; and three-stream recycling mandates. 

This initiative is ambitious, with a “zero waste” goal and legal mandates for recycling. San Francisco’s progressive, activist government has led the way, supported by civil society. Zero waste has become a social norm among citizens and the business community. 

San Francisco Zero Waste staff noted that it is important to institute a legal mandate at the right political time. They instituted theirs after having spent many years educating the public and promoting voluntary measures, which prepared the public when a legal mandate to recycle was established. They announced that the legal obligation was coming, and asked people how they can help them meet the requirements. They saw a real pick up in recycling and waste diversion even before the mandate went into effect, due to the effort spent on preparation of the public.

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