1. Who did it: San Francisco Department of the Environment and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission with assistance from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
  2. What they did (and when): In September 2004, San Francisco released a forward-looking local government Climate Action Plan that includes significant measurable plans to reduce materials-related GHG emissions.

The CAP recognizes the greenhouse gas benefits from avoiding the energy used during the extraction and processing of virgin raw materials to manufacture new products and that reducing landfill lowers the amount of methane released into the atmosphere.

The 2004 report proposes a wide variety of actions to achieve its stated emissions reductions, which fall into the following categories: transportation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and solid waste. Within each category, each action is described including an estimate for the CO2 emissions reduction it would result in.

The table below summarizes the Solid Waste actions proposed:

Solid Waste
Increase Residential Recycling and Composting
70,000 tons, estimated CO2 reduction
Solid Waste
Increase Commercial Recycling and Composting
Solid Waste
Expand Construction and Demolition Debris Recycling
Solid Waste
Support Alternate Collection Methods for Recyclable Materials
Solid Waste
Promote Source Reduction, Reuse, and Other Waste Reduction

302,000 tons, estimated CO2 reduction

This compares with reduction goals from other sectors: transportation 963,000 tons/year; Energy Efficiency Actions 801,000 tons/year; and Renewable Energy Actions 548,000 tons/year with a total goal of 2,614,000 tons/year.
These strategies aligned with City’s adoption of waste diversion goals of 75% by 2010 and “Zero Waste” by 2020.

  • 4. Results/outcomes/successes/failures/lessons learned:

San Francisco implemented a Mandatory Recycling & Composting Ordinance

Next Steps

Expand recycling and composting services for the City’s apartment buildings, particularly for the 133,000 units in buildings that house 6 units or more.
Develop equivalent collection services for downtown areas.
Increase participation through expanded outreach.
Add new materials to residential diversion programs.
Adopt policies for mandatory participation.
Develop waste diversion strategies and programs with the City’s Environmental Justice Program to better serve SF Housing Authority and other low-income housing.
Promote building owner/manager and resident participation in waste diversion programs.
Complete commercial recycling and composting collection programs rollout per garbage rate plan.
Target generators, conduct waste audits, provide training and other assistance, and collaborate with associations (e.g., BOMA, restaurant and hotel associations), service providers, unions and others to increase diversion.
Expand outreach, including promote participation in waste diversion programs by building owners/managers and employees.
Monitor new organics processing, Pier 96 commercial recycling lines and Tunnel Avenue construction and demolition debris lines to ensure they are being used to their fullest capacity.
Develop markets, add materials eligible for recycling and composting collection, and promote buying recycled.
Integrate environmental justice considerations into commercial waste diversion program plans.
Provide incentives (such as tiered rates, awards programs) for increased participation.
Research and recommend legislation to increase diversion.• Complete Norcal’s new Materials Recovery Facility and monitor operations to expand capacity for C&D diversion.
Expand outreach, including promote participation in waste diversion programs by building owners/managers and contractors.
Develop new markets for C&D waste (e.g. sheetrock).
Develop policies for mandatory participation (e.g. C&D debris recycling ordinance).
Provide technical assistance and financial support (e.g., grants and contracts) to organizations to increase waste prevention, reuse, recycling and composting diversion.
Expand outreach to support these programs.
Increase waste audits as a step to increasing waste prevention.
Work with other cities, counties and stakeholders to enact State electronics producer responsibility legislation.
Identify additional reusable, recyclable and compostable products with recycled content, direct purchases to such alternatives, and evaluate buying recycled progress.
Research and recommend local packaging producer responsibility legislation.
Increase outreach (e.g. brochures, media campaigns, grants) and assistance to businesses and purchasers on purchasing and using recycled and/or recyclable/ compostable products.
Research and promote using products that require less materials (e.g. double sided copying).Update City department database, conduct waste audits at each location, provide training and other assistance, collaborate with service providers, unions and others, and evaluate Resource Conservation Ordinance compliance.
Strengthen Resource Conservation Ordinance to increase City departments’ diversion programs and purchases of recycled content products (e.g. post consumer content paper) and compostables (e.g. food service products).
Provide technical assistance (e.g. training for city staff to participate in programs).