Stories / According to the EPA, the national recycling rate in the U.S. is only about 34%. That means most of our solid waste goes to landfills and incinerators - including recyclable items like paper, glass, metal and plastic. Massive amounts of food waste that can be composted is clogging landfills, creating dangerous greenhouse gases. Many cities are starting to tackle this problem by implementing policies to help curb the waste by recycling and composting more. It's known as the "zero waste" movement, and San Francisco is on the forefront. Other cities that have zero waste goals include Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Austin, and Oakland. But San Francisco has been the most aggressive. In 2009 the board of supervisors passed an ordinance requiring all residents and business to recycle and compost their waste, making it the first American city to make composting mandatory. Its goal is to achieve zero waste by 2020, and it has diverted 80% of its waste from landfills so far. Now the city is getting attention from all around the world. Government officials from China, Italy, France, Denmark, India and many other countries have visited San Francisco's state of the art recycling and composting facilities in hopes of learning how to replicate its success.
For more on San Francisco's Zero Waste plan: http://sfenvironment.org/zero-waste