Mandatory Recycling Hasn't Led to Fascism In Other Locales — But San Francisco's Proposed Fines are 10 Times Higher Than Elsewhere

There's no getting around it — the notion of a government employee or contractor inspecting one's refuse and approving or disapproving its composition is creepy, regardless of how altruistic the goal of waste reduction. You cannot argue about this.

That being said, Big Brother has not taken over the Departments of Sanitation in the several cities that preceded San Francisco in adopting mandatory recycling and composting (we're assuming this one is going to pass at today's Board of Supervisors meeting — that's what happens when legislation is sponsored by Gavin Newsom and Chris Daly and Ross Mirkarimi).

Despite the aforementioned creepiness, proponents of the bill have a number of good arguments in their bins. For one, you're not allowed to randomly toss trash anywhere, and this is ostensibly an extension of that. Secondly, you are already required to separate hazardous materials out of your trash. Yet a couple of things worry us: San Francisco has a rich history of adopting programs that worked well elsewhere and making an absolute pig's breakfast of them over here. Also, glancing at the six-year-old mandatory recycling program in ideologically similar Seattle, one could argue that San Francisco's proposed penalties are a bit draconian.

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