News Release
April 21, 2011

Earth Day is -- Friday, April 22

S.F. compost program offsets emissions from all traffic on Bay Bridge for over 2 years

SAN FRANCISCO: New data shows that in addition to returning nutrients to local farms and vineyards, San Francisco's compost collection program offsets hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2 emissions, thereby helping lead efforts to reduce the Bay Area's carbon footprint.

San Francisco residents and businesses have placed more than 907,000 tons of food scraps and plants in green bins since the program started as a pilot in 1996. Recology, the garbage and recycling company based in San Francisco, collects those tons separately from other waste and composts the scraps and plants producing 95,000 cubic yards of finished compost a year.

San Francisco's compost program reduces landfill disposal and offsets greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of methane produced in landfills and by sequestering carbon in top soil. Since its inception, the program has created a total CO2E benefit (methane avoided and carbon sequestered) of 354,600 metric tons. That is equal to offsetting emissions from all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge* for 777 days, which is more than two years.

"These new numbers further illustrate what residents and businesses who actively participate in the compost collection program intuitively understand, namely that placing food scraps and plants in green bins so that these materials are composted instead of going to a landfill is a highly effective way to help protect the environment," says Mike Sangiacomo, Recology's President and CEO.

The emissions offsets noted above are based on a protocol set by the Climate Action Reserve. Because San Francisco's modern compost program offers so many benefits (returning nutrients to farms, reducing landfill disposal, avoiding methane creation, and storing carbon in top soil) this program should be replicated in cities across the country. Doing so would give people across America the means to compost all their food scraps and plant cuttings.

In the last four years, approximately 300 U.S. cities and universities started collecting food scraps for composting. The potential to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replicating San Francisco's program is tremendous. According to the U.S. EPA, 32 million tons of food is thrown into landfills or incinerators annually, contributing mightily to greenhouse gases.

"Offsetting the emissions from all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for more than two years is outstanding," says Melanie Nutter, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. "These numbers show what you can accomplish with the flexibility of San Francisco's regulatory structure and a remarkably dedicated service provider."

*Total average daily vehicle traffic, per the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge:
240,000, 2009-10
250,000, 2008-09
251,000, 2007-08
244,000, 2006-07

Media Contacts:
Adam Alberti, Singer Associates, Inc., cell: (415) 225-2443

Robert Reed, Recology, cell: (415) 606-9183