San Francisco on Track to Become Zero Waste City

San Francisco on Track to Become Zero Waste City

sanfransiscotrashEach year, Americans throw away about 250 million tons of garbage. That’s roughly four pounds per person per day.

You can find all manner of trash in a landfill, old bent music stands, plastic bags, and a lot of items that could have been recycled, like bottles and cardboard. Beyond the obvious blight they cause, landfills create environmental damage and emit harmful greenhouse gases. They are monuments to waste.

Those concerns have prompted San Francisco and a handful of other cities to aim for a once-unthinkable goal, zero waste.

San Francisco is trying to become the first city with zero waste. By requiring residents and businesses to separate compostable items such as food scraps, as well as recyclable items, NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reports that the city has already reduced a huge amount of garbage from ending up in landfills.

In 2009, San Francisco became the first city in the country to require that residents and businesses alike separate from their trash compostable items, like food scraps, and recyclable goods, like paper, metals, and plastic, into separate bins.

And that has led to a big reduction in the amount of garbage headed to the landfill, according to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

Watch San Francisco on Track to Become Zero Waste City on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.