Descriptive Title:

Annual per capita solid waste disposal

Geographic Unit of Analysis:


Table 1. Annual waste disposal (in tons) by jurisdiction of origin, Bay Area region, 2013
Jurisdiction of origin (County) Total disposal (tons) Total population* Per capita waste disposal
Alameda 1,143,318 1,573,254 0.73
Contra Costa 672,004 1,087,008 0.62
Marin 184,471 255,846 0.72
Napa 106,556 139,255 0.77
San Francisco 476,424 836,620 0.57
San Mateo 543,723 745,193 0.73
Santa Clara 1,133,189 1,868,558 0.61
Solano 323,276 424,233 0.76
Sonoma 322,067 490,486 0.66
California 29,946,958. 38,340,074 0.78
*American Community Survey, 2013
Table 2. Annual waste disposal (in tons) by jurisdiction of origin, San Francisco (1995-2013)
Report year  Total disposal (tons)  Total population  Per capita waste disposal
2013 476,424 826,003 0.58
2012 454,570 816,310 0.56
2011 446,635 808,768 0.55
2010 455,332 807,177 0.56
2009 484,812 801,799 0.60
2008 594,660 798,673 0.74
2007 628,864 791,334 0.79
2006 695,574 782,928 0.89
2005 675,278 779,655 0.87
2004 691,626 780,699 0.89
2003 718,863 781,870 0.92
2002 758,701 783,255 0.97
2001 856,064 782,223 1.09
2000 872,707 776,733 1.12
1999 806,676 762,359 1.06
1998 887,066 753,810 1.18
1997 791,129 746,762 1.06
1996 702,564 741,971 0.95
1995 683,990 741,615 0.92
Source: California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, 2014

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

The impacts of solid waste on health relate indirectly to: 1) the use of environmental resources expended in the production of waste, and 2) the externalities related to waste disposal and waste management. Nearly all solid waste represents used commodities that required energy and other environmental resources to produce. The inappropriate storage and disposal of organic waste can attract rodents and insects, which may increase the frequency of gastro-intestinal and parasitic diseases. Illegal waste disposal can also impact water, waste water and storm water systems. Space that is used for waste disposal (i.e., landfills) uses land that can be used for other purposes. The ability to divert waste reduces the need of natural resource extraction, conserves energy and reduces emissions associated with new production and transport. Diverting waste can reduce groundwater contamination from landfills and toxic air emissions from incineration.

After source reduction (or reducing the amount of waste produced), recycling and composting are the preferred waste management options of integrated solid waste management techniques. Recycling and composting helps reduce potential risks to human health and the environment, conserve energy, slow depletion of nonrenewable natural resources and diverts waste from landfills and incinerators.

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

In the past ten years, total annual waste sent to landfills in San Francisco has been dropping, from 718,863 tons in 2003 to 476,424 tons in 2013 (Table 2). The amount of waste disposal per capita in San Francisco propped to 0.60 tons in 2009, and has remained relatively stable since. This represents the smallest per capita waste disposal among the Bay Area counties (Table 1). The decrease in both total annual and per capita waste sent to landfills in the past few years may be due to the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance, which took effect in October 2009, requiring all persons in San Francisco to separate recyclables, compostables and landfilled trash and participate in recycling and composting programs.a

SF Environment Code Chapter 14 established the Construction and Demolition Debris Recovery Ordinance, requiring a minimum of 65% diversion from landfill of construction and demolition debris. In 2002 the SF Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution No. 679-02 setting a goal of 75% diversion from landfill by 2010 and promoting the highest and best use of recovered materials and authorizing the Commission on the Environment to adopt a zero waste goal for 2020.


To determine per capita waste disposal for each jurisdiction of origin, current data was retrieved from Cal Recycle. Disposal ton data was divided by population data from the Census for the respective counties. The Disposal Reporting System (DRS) tracks the amount of solid waste disposed by each jurisdiction in California. Recycling and composting data was provided by the San Francisco Department of Environment.


Due to the nature of the solid waste, recycling and composting data that is currently available, a neighborhood comparison and geographic equity analysis of this indicator cannot be completed at this time.

Data Source

California Integrated Waste Management Board, Disposal Reporting System (DRS).

Population figures from the American Community Survey (Table 1) and the California Department of Finance (Table 2).

Tables prepared by City and County of San Francisco, Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section.

Detailed information regarding census data, geographic units of analysis, their definitions, and their boundaries can be found at the following links:

Interactive boundaries map

  1. San Francisco Department of Environment. Mandatory Recycling and Composting. Available at: