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Did you know that the urban waste produced from cities around the world is enough to fill a line of garbage trucks stretching more than 3,100 miles that’s a distance from Florida to Washington every day and things are only expected to get worse thankfully some cities such as San Francisco are paving the way and trying to change the way we think about trash San Francisco plans to become zero waste by 2020 which is a pretty ambitious but awesome goal and this is the main nerve center for all of the city’s recyclables this is where everything ends up to be sorted and processed what is zero waste it’s an idea and it means sending next to nothing to landfills or incinerators in 2009 the city passed a law requiring residents and businesses to sort their waste into recyclables compostable and landfill trash Recology is the private company that handles it all when I started at Recology 23 years ago the recycling rate was around 38% today we’ve more than doubled that so far San Francisco has diverted 80% of it to waste away from landfills and its success has been getting global attention government representatives from all over the world visit this facility to learn about how they might be able to replicate what’s being done here what is the current method of waste management or recycling in your town what we have a lot of in Denver is excellent incineration where you will burn the waste do you think that you might implement some of what you’ve learned one thing that we have heard a lot is a the value of composting we don’t do that a lot so maybe we will go home and do more composting San Francisco now collects 650 tons of food scraps yard trimmings and other organic waste every day that material is brought here to be turned into compost this is one of the most modern composting facilities in North America ok so you can see a bunch of stuff here that people have thrown away mostly like wood here a shoe this flip-flop yeah there’s that what’s up with shoes okay well there’s seven billion people on the planet so there’s a lot of shoes we’re in a culture here in California where people are moving very quickly and so people make mistakes so we get the the things that are not supposed to be here we get them removed right away right at the beginning after the waste is ground up and screened for plastic and other bits of trash the organic matter leftover gets watered and aerated a piping system then filters out dangerous greenhouse gases produced by microbes in about 60 days the compost is complete and sold to local organic farmers and vineyards how does composting help the environment composting keeps materials out of landfills it returns nutrients to farms it reduces the production of very potent greenhouse gases it attracts and retains water like rainwater I mean it’s smell like hell but it’s actually very beautiful what you’re describing here you know people’s food scraps which might otherwise the waste comes here to essentially feed these farms and produce new crops well from this facility more than 300 vineyards have received the compost and applied it to their vineyards farmers are using the compost to grow cover crops that pull carbon out of the atmosphere and return carbon back to the soil this is one of the best things we can do in an effort to slow down climate change people have really heard a lot about environmental problems they want to hear now a lot more about environmental solution how much recycling and composting is there in your town let us know in the comments below and be sure to watch this next episode about a woman who already lives a zero-waste lifestyle two ears of trash in this tiny village are my values are having a really low environmental impact I have to live like I want that and so that’s why I decided to change my lifestyle thanks for watching and please subscribe to seeker stories to see new videos every week

how san fancisco is becoming a zero waste city