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At the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, farmers, shoppers, and diners are advised to "Be Waste Wise!"

Bi-Rite uses all the over-ripe bananas from the Market for the Creamery's roasted banana ice cream and homemade banana bread.

Zero-Waste All-Stars

Bay Area businesses with exemplary garbage-reduction practices.

Diversion Rate: n/a
Uses e-document storage via Google docs and to minimize paper printing; serves lunch to 200-person staff on nondisposable dishware; minimizes packaging with bulk cereals, coffee, sugars, spices, and snacks; keeps a nearly bottle-free beverage program with piped water dispensers (still and sparkling), juice and iced tea on tap and kombucha via keg.

Anchor Brewing Company
Diversion Rate: 99.5% (for the grain used in the brewing process only)
Sends spent grains and hops to a family-run dairy farm in Atwater, where it’s used to feed livestock; recycles scrap metal, batteries, paint, electronics, and waste oil alongside the usual paper and plastic.

AT&T Park
Diversion Rate: 85 – 100% (depending on the season)
Hand-sorts trash onsite to ensure that no recyclables or compostables end up in landfill; mandates that most drinkware and food packaging is recyclable or compostable.

Bi-Rite Creamery
Diversion Rate: An exact percentage isn’t available, but, a rep says, “We save over 500,000 plastic spoons from filling landfills every year.”
Uses metal spoons for tastes, compostable cups and spoons for servings; repurposes slightly bruised or overripe produce from Bi-Rite Market in baked goods instead of throwing them out.

Calafia Café, Palo Alto
Diversion Rate: n/a
Exercises “portion control” (“A lot of waste management has to do with how much food you put on the plate,” says chef Charlie Ayers); minimizes packaging waste by making as much in-house as possible—even hot sauce and ketchup; sells used fryer oil to a Santa Cruz company that turns it into biofuel.

California Academy of Sciences
Diversion Rate: “75%+”
Transforms landscaping waste into compost and mulch for the gardens and living roof; sells no plastic bottled water; stocks only compostable or recyclable to-go containers at the café; banished waste bins from offices and cubicles; sets shared office printers to double-sided print mode; donates clean packaging foam to the “Waste to Waves” program through SustainableSurf, which turns it into surfboard planks.

Chez Panisse, Berkeley
Diversion Rate: “Pretty high; we only have two trash cans in the whole place.”
Returns reusable stacking farm bins (plus a dozen full bins of vegetable trimmings) to Green String Farm in Petaluma twice a week; sends all extra bread to the food bank; stopped serving bottled water a decade ago. 

eBay, San Jose
Diversion Rate: 96%
Repurposes food scraps from cafeteria and break rooms as fertilizer, much of it for the campus vegetable garden.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
Diversion Rate: 90%
Prohibits vendors from using plastic bags; provides composting services for all merchants and customers.

Fraîche, San Francisco and Palo Alto
Diversion Rate: “It’s gotta be 99%.”
Composts or recycles everything but kitchen latex gloves; serves yogurt, oatmeal, frittatas, and coffee in ceramic dishware or compostable to-go ware.

Mission Pie
Diversion Rate: 87%
Sources most produce directly from farmers who deliver in reusable containers; uses waste bins that are demonstrably smaller than compost bins; develops products specifically around waste reduction: egg whites leftover from banana cream pie used in macaroon cookie; stems from broccoli salad go into a galette.

Diversion Rate: n/a. But: “We are able to service up to 800 customers a day and keep waste in a single trash bin.”
Repurposes daily menus as beverage coasters, runners between plates, and notepads for waiters; candles made from recyclable plastic; ships wine corks off through to be remade into footwear for the Sole shoe company.

Roam Artisan Burgers
Diversion Rate: 94%
Tries to compost all food scraps and paper products; recycles fry oil into biofuel for Muni buses; serves only tap wine (no bottles, no corks); keeps a garbage can only as a courtesy for customers who brought waste in from outside.

SFO Terminal 3
Diversion Rate: 77% (for all of SFO)
When finished in 2014, the Gensler-designed partial remodel of Terminal 3 will double down on zero-waste efforts at 2011’s Terminal 2: composting/recycling only in food courts; additional hydration stations for refilling reusable water bottles; liquid pour-out stations at security (cuts down waste weight).

Read More:
How To Zero-Waste Your Own Life
The Family That Wastes Not
A Year of Living Trashlessly
Follow That Compost!
The End of Trash


Originally published in the April 2013 issue of San Francisco.

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