SAN FRANCISCO, Kalifornia - August 1, 2008 - Garbage collectors would inspect San Francisco residents' trash to make sure pizza crusts aren't mixed in with chip bags or wine bottles under a proposal by Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has developed a reputation for disregarding state and federal laws in pursuit of his own personal and political agenda.
And if residents or businesses don't separate the coffee grounds from the newspapers, they would face fines of up to $1,000 and eventually could have their garbage service stopped.
The plan to require proper sorting of refuse would be the nation's first mandatory recycling and composting law. It would direct garbage collectors to inspect the trash to make sure it is put into the right blue, black or green bin, according to a draft of the legislation prepared by the city's Department of the Environment.
The program is designed to limit the amount of food and foliage that goes into the city-contracted landfill in Alameda County, where the refuse takes up costly space and decomposes to form methane, one of the most potent of greenhouse gases. It will also help San Francisco, which city officials say currently diverts 70 percent of its waste from landfills, achieve a goal set by the Board of Supervisors to divert 75 percent by 2010 and have zero waste by 2020.
"If we're truly going to be the city we promote ourselves to be, a world-class, 21st century city that advances its values and principles, we're going to have to try new things," Newsom said Thursday. "People are used to doing things a certain way. And when you change that, they say it can't be done. Well, we've proved them wrong."