San Francisco has a plan to eliminate incinerators and landfill by 2020, and to attain this goal, one of the latest moves is to ban the sale or distribution of small plastic bottles of water on public property - which means events!

The city  authorities plan to install drinking fountains. Compostable cups will be handed out at large gatherings.

"There are incredible, enormous environmental costs of plastic water bottles. It takes 1,000 years for a typical plastic water bottle to biodegrade," said David Chiu, president of the board of supervisors, who introduced the measure. "If we can do this on public property and folks understand this is absolutely doable, then we can look at next steps." In other words, consider an overall ban.

San Francisco has adopted this step-by-step method since the Zero Waste scheme was decided in 2002. "California had already set a target for 50% recycling [of solid waste] by 2010. But we wanted to go further," says Jared Blumenfeld, former head of San Francisco's department of the environment and now Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator for the Pacific south-west. "We agreed on an ambitious zero-waste target and then on a date, which was far enough away for us to find the means of achieving it, but close enough for everyone to feel immediately concerned." The target was set for 2020, with a 75% step on the way in 2010.

"We don't see waste as a burden, rather as a resource which can be used," says Robert Reed, head of public relations at Recology, the employee-owned company that collects and processes San Francisco's waste.


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