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Follow That Compost!
Tracking San Francisco’s scraps from plate to field and back again.
Dara Kerr | Photo: Peter Arkle | March 25, 2013
All of the 165,000 properties in San Francisco, from homes to movie theaters to restaurants, have green composting bins.
Roughly 600 tons of food scraps and yard waste are collected every day by Recology’s 49 trucks.
Each truck heads to the S.F. Transfer Station on Tunnel Avenue and unloads 7 to 9 tons of compostable material into the organics annex. Then, 24.5 tons are loaded on to each of many transfer trucks.
The 18-wheelers drive much of the material to Recology’s state-of- the-art composting facility near Vacaville, called Jepson Prairie Organics.
There, microbes take over. The compost goes through 15 stages of sorting, grinding, aerating, and curing over a period of 60 days.
The compost is taken to a blending pad loaded with things like redwood sawdust, gypsum, rice hulls, and sandy loam. There, specialists concoct custom compost blends for specific soil types.
Fifty percent of compost is sold for landscaping, erosion control, and organic gardening. The rest is used on vineyards throughout Northern California. Et voilà: Your table scraps have become your table wine!
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of San Francisco.