The Dry Garden: How green is your green bin?

Jorge Santiesteban estimates that food scraps constitute roughly 15% to 25% of what goes into black garbage bins in Los Angeles. The city’s solid resources manager has been struck by the seasonal changes in how much food we throw away since 1997, when, in the week after Thanksgiving, he had a garbage truck empty its contents for him. Santiesteban picked through the trash, putting like objects with like until a clear picture emerged. This is what is known in recycling circles as “waste characterization.”

As bad as it must have been for Santiesteban during that November audit of rotting giblets and pie crusts, his San Francisco counterpart might have had it worse. Waste characterizations done there show that as much as 30% of San Francisco’s garbage has been composed of food scraps.

Now the race is on to see which of the two cities can divert more kitchen waste from

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