Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

By George McGrath, Chief Operating Officer at Recology and Heather D. Achilles, Distinguished Engineer with IBM Research

People around the world increasingly understand that everyone must take more care to help protect the environment. To meet this challenge, each of us must take a serious look at the garbage we generate every day. 

When you take a closer look at what you throw away, you see that garbage isn’t garbage at all. Garbage is a mix of resources such as paper, metal, hard plastics and food scraps – all things that should be reused, recycled or composted.

Once you see that garbage isn’t really waste, you begin to understand that it is possible to send nothing to landfills and truly help protect the environment, where each one of us can play a part.

So what can we do to keep materials that could be reused, recycled or composted from going to landfills? To answer that question many are looking closely at San Francisco’s recycling program.


The city reports that 78 percent of all garbage generated in San Francisco is diverted from landfill disposal through reduction, reuse, recycling and compost collection. That’s the highest diversion rate for any large city in the country. In fact, a detailed survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit cited forward recycling programs as the chief reason for listing San Francisco as the “greenest” city in North America.

Residents and businesses in San Francisco cut the amount of material they send to landfills by 49.7 percent, from 730,000 tons in 2000 to 367,300 tons in 2011. Recology, a resource recovery company based in San Francisco, works closely with the city, managing and mining large sets of data to identify new opportunities to further increase diversion.
YouTube Preview Image

Recology’s compost collection program in San Francisco has kept 1.1 million tons of organic materials out of landfills and instead used that feedstock to produce 600,000 cubic yards of finished compost. That gives farms and vineyards a viable alternative to liquid/chemical-based fertilizers.

New data confirms that recycling and composting are more effective at helping protect the environment than previously realized. If you farm one acre of land conventionally for one year, you put 3,800 pounds of carbon in the atmosphere. But if you apply compost made from food scraps to that acre and farm it environmentally, you return 12,000 pounds of carbon to the soil. Not only have you reversed the direction of the carbon from the atmosphere to the soil, it is a 4.5 times difference.

The compost collection program Recology provides in San Francisco has created a total CO2E benefit of more than 347,500 metric tons. That is equal to offsetting emissions from all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for 2.1 years.*

Studies show that if every city in America replicated San Francisco’s compost program and if we planted more trees on marginal soils, we could offset up to 20 percent of America’s carbon emissions.

Sometimes the answers to difficult challenges are closer than we think. Take a few moments and look at your garbage. Paper, metal, hard plastic, food scraps – all resources. Avoid purchasing products that come in excessive packaging. Practice reuse, recycle and compost. These simple steps make a world of difference.

* Total CO2E benefit (methane avoided and carbon sequestered) calculated per protocol set by the Climate Action Registry.

To participate in a tweet chat on sustainability please follow @SustainableIBM and look for hashtag  #zerowasteIBM on June 1 at 1 pm EDT.

Bookmark and Share

Previous post

Next post

7 Comments
 
September 22, 2014
3:16 am

With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or
copyright violation? My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either
created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement.
Do you know any methods to help protect against content from being
ripped off? I’d certainly appreciate it.


Posted by: regime sans gluten
 
September 17, 2014
6:17 pm

Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4!
Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
Keep up the excellent work!


Posted by: final phase
 
July 11, 2014
12:15 pm

Thanks for sharing


Posted by: REstore my vision today review
 
July 11, 2014
12:11 pm

Thanks for sharing superb informations


Posted by: mi40x download
 
June 4, 2014
10:15 pm

An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you need to publish more about this
subject, it may not be a taboo matter but typically folks don’t discuss
such topics. To the next! Best wishes!!


Posted by: arbonne
 
April 26, 2014
11:54 pm

I’m not sure why but this weblog is loading very slow for me.
Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end?
I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.


Posted by: unique cake toppers
 
June 7, 2012
7:02 pm

I didn’t specifically notice anything mentioned in George and Heather’s post about green waste. So I wanted to point out that one part of a smart landscape plan for properties can be to recycle green waste. Doing so obviously reduces the amount of material going to landfills, but it also can be beneficial to plant health, cut water use, be used as organic mulch while reducing the carbon footprint as a result of trucks not making trips to haul off the clippings. We are finding many more of our commercial property customers (hotels, offices, retail centers, apartments, etc.) adopting such practices and that makes us smile.

Here’s a recent post from our water blog with a few more tips on this topic: http://valleycresttakeson.com/watermanagement/trends/honey-did-you-cut-the-grass/


Posted by: Dennis Kaiser
 
Post a Comment