I got my start in garbage early in life (thanks, 4th grade field trip to the dump) because I live in an environmentally-friendly city: San Francisco. In San Francisco, compost and recycling aren’t just normal, they’re the law. One benefit of living in one of the greenest cities in the country is that most of our waste (80%) gets recycled or composted, leaving only 20% going to the landfill.
This is accomplished through a unique city/hauler relationship, years of social norming, laws mandating proper composting and recycling at every level (commercial & residential), and bans on single use plastic bags, water bottles, and Styrofoam. There’s also some pretty cool technology involved, but I’ll do a post about that later.
Regardless, the national recycling rate hovers around 30%, making SF’s 80% rate an abnormality in the United States.
This success leads some of my Bay Area friends to believe that their magical recycling city produces no trash at all, leading to the question, “Doesn’t it all get recycled?”
No. No it doesn’t.
So if it isn’t all getting recycled, then where does it go?
“Where The Waste Goes” is a topic that has filled more than a couple of books, so for now let’s do a quick dive into where your stuff is most likely to go.