September 30, 2002

Background - see the resolution
  [pdf] - Zero Waste Briefing Kit
Contact: Bill Sheehan (GA)
Gary Liss (CA)


San Francisco's Zero Waste policy gives it a leg up over New York City in 2012 Olympics bid

New York, NY -- Monday’s historic vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopting a zero waste goal presents a stark contrast with New York City, according to the GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN). San Francisco is competing with New York City to be named the official United States entry for the 2012 Summer Games.

“New York City is embroiled in a 1980’s debate over how to handle its waste. Meanwhile, San Francisco is diverting almost half of its waste and now has committed to continue on to zero waste,” said Bill Sheehan, GRRN’s executive director. “New York is cutting back its meager recycling program while San Francisco has implemented residential and business food scraps collection and is passing producer responsibility resolutions that address the root problem of waste.”

Environmental considerations have become increasingly important in recent years in determining the site of Olympic games.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Monday to set an aggressive goal of diverting 75 percent of the City’s discards by 2010, and to establish the timeline for achieving zero waste as soon as the City reaches a 50 percent diversion rate. San Francisco currently recycles about 49 percent of its waste according to staff, and will reach the 50 percent mark later this year or next year.

“Zero Waste was once an idealistic dream but it is now a realistic goal and a model for our communities,” said Sheehan, GRRN’s Executive Director. “Not every community wants to cast itself in San Francisco’s mold, but for communities intent on protecting their environment, saving taxpayer dollars, and promoting a robust local economy, San Francisco’s Zero Waste resolution advances a strategy suitable for everyone,” continued Sheehan.

GRRN is a North American network of recycling professionals and waste reduction activists promoting a sustainable and equitable economy through the principle of Zero Waste. Zero Waste changes the way resources and materials flow through our society, closing-off waste disposal in landfills and incinerators and focusing instead to design out waste and ensure discards can be cycled safely back into the environment or the economy.

“San Francisco is the first major U.S. city to make a strong commitment to a goal of Zero Waste. They continue building on their leadership in the areas of environmental protection and resource management,” said Gary Liss, a Zero Waste advisor to GRRN. “San Francisco should not be alone, however. There are dozens of cities and communities across the country that could follow this bold path and embrace the Zero Waste strategy. GRRN is ready to help, with the tools and expertise necessary to go beyond recycling,” continued Liss.

Zero Waste is gaining momentum around the world and at every level of government, from Del Norte County, California, to the state of Wisconsin, to the country of New Zealand – in each place, Zero Waste has been established as a vision to guide long-range planning. Examples of Zero Waste plans and extensive background materials are available on-line at


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