San Francisco Implements Nation’s First Mandatory Composting Law

by , 10/22/09

sustainable design, green design, san francisco, recycling initiatives, compost, agriculture, public policy, gavin newsom

San Francisco already diverts over 72% of its waste from landfills thanks to rigorous recycling efforts, and now the city is set to cut down on trash even more with the country’s first mandatory composting law, which took effect yesterday. Residents and businesses now have six weeks to start composting food waste, plant trimmings, and other items. Needless to say we’re thrilled by this initiative, and we invite everyone to join us as we chat with Mayor Gavin Newsom about it next Wednesday in our final Green Talks webcast!

sustainable design, green design, san francisco, recycling initiatives, compost, agriculture, public policy, gavin newsomSF Mayor Gavin Newsom signed the initiative in June 2009

Mayor Newsom signed the nation’s first mandatory composting law last June, and now that the law is in effect, San Francisco residents can expect to see big green composting bins popping up alongside the black trash bins and blue recycling containers. Many residents have used the green bins for years, but the new law has seen demand for the composting containers skyrocket, with city waste collection companies delivering over 100 per day.

For most residents, the fee for neglecting the compost ordinance will be small –there is a $100 cap for homes and businesses that generate less than one cubic yard of trash each week–but San Franciscans are generally excited about the new law.

If all recyclables and compostables are diverted from landfills, San Francisco could up its recycling rate to 90%. That’s impressive enough, but Mayor Gavin Newsom hopes that the law could push the city to eliminate all landfill waste by 2020. Don’t miss out as we interview Mayor Newsom about this exciting initiative next Wednesday for the final MUST SEE installment of our Green Talks series!


+ San Francisco Signs Mandatory Composting Laws


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  1. San Francisco Bans Happ... November 3, 2010 at 10:31 am

    […] Francisco is known as the evergreen city with their composting, their hordes of EV charging stations and now word on the street is that the San Francisco Board of […]

  2. yogaialove September 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    This is wonderful! Let’s hope the rest of the US and world for that matter follow suit.

    All you San Fran composters, check out for an easy to use in-door compost storage bin, the CompoKeeper. I discovered it a few months ago and absolutely love it. It makes doing my part easy and even fun. For real.

  3. jeanX October 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    I don’t think it’s so great to have trucks climb the steep hills of sf to collect anything.
    Ever other day or every day?
    I am in favor of ‘taking your glass bottles back to the store’ and composting on your own property
    or taking it to some recycling center.I remember when a horse and wagon used to deliver milk and
    eggs daily.’Glass bottles’ is the key.Plastic bottles are the death of glass bottles,
    b/c “it’s more convenient”.Too bad.

  4. GoGreenMan October 23, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    @ Seattlegirl, it is the first “mandatory” composting law. It is optional in most places, including here in Oregon.

  5. holz October 23, 2009 at 4:23 am

    seattle’s had composting since march

  6. Seattlegirl October 23, 2009 at 3:06 am

    We’ve had mandatory recycling, including curbside composting, in Seattle for about a year now. Not sure SF can grab that “First” trophy.

  7. amanda October 22, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    I am doing a Science Project on “Is composting with Red worms faster than composting with Earth Worms”? Could you please email me information.

    Thank you.

    Amanda Byrd

  8. Kirsten Corsaro October 22, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    This is great step, and it’s very cool that SF has a zero waste goal. I believe the city may not be the first to require composting though– I think it’s already mandatory in Seattle.

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