San Francisco food-composting program is a hit

In 1996, a company called Norcal Waste found that 19 percent of landfill matter in San Francisco consisted of discarded food scraps — and it sensed a market opportunity. Now the city boasts a popular and growing composting program, with discarded food collected and processed into organically certified “Four Course Compost,” sold to organic farms and vineyards. Sales of the compost have increased by 23 percent in each of the last two years, but perhaps more importantly, the program is a hit with the city’s residents and restaurateurs. “It’s increased the morale in the kitchens. People feel they’re not throwing things out, they’re doing something good for the environment while they’re working,” says Jonathan Cook, who supervises operations at eight restaurants. Restaurants also save substantially on garbage charges. The program may serve as a national model.