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  • LAURA LING: 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?

  • ROBERT REED: It's an idea,

  • and it means sending next to nothing to landfills or incinerators.

  • LAURA LING: In 2009, the city passed a law requiring residents and businesses

  • to sort their waste into recyclables, compostables, and landfill trash.

  • Recology is the private company that handles it all.

  • ROBERT REED: When I started at Recology 23 years ago,

  • the recycling rate was around 38%.

  • Today we've more than doubled that.

  • LAURA LING: So far, San Francisco has diverted 80% of its 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?

  • DANIEL ANDERSEN: What we have a lot of in Denmark is actually incineration, where you will burn the waste.

  • LAURA LING: Do you think that you might implement some of what you've learned here?

  • DANIEL ANDERSEN: One thing that we have heard about is the value of composting.

  • We don't do that a lot.

  • So maybe we will go home and do more composting.

  • LAURA LING: 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.

  • ROBERT REED: This is one of the most modern composting facilities in North America.

  • LAURA LING: OK, so you can see a bunch of stuff here that people have thrown away.

  • Mostly like wood here.

  • A shoe, this flip-flop.

  • ROBERT REED: Yeah.

  • LAURA LING: What's up with shoes?


  • ROBERT REED: 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 things that are not supposed to be here,

  • we get them removed right away, right at the beginning.

  • LAURA LING: 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?

  • ROBERT REED: 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.

  • LAURA LING: I mean, it smells like hell.

  • But it's actually very beautiful, what you're describing here.

  • You know, people's food scraps, which might otherwise be waste,

  • comes here to essentially feed these farms

  • and produce new crops.

  • ROBERT REED: 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 solutions.

  • LAURA LING: 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.

  • LAUREN SINGER: Two years of trash in this tiny little jar.

  • 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.

  • LAURA LING: Thanks for watching, and please subscribe to "Seeker Stories" to see new videos every week.

LAURA LING: Did you know that the urban waste produced from cities around the world

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How San Francisco Is Becoming A Zero Waste City

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    羅世康 posted on 2017/07/23
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