By Susie Steimle

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A proposal to force businesses in San Francisco to recycle their trash correctly or face steep fines is up for a vote.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai is sponsoring a city ordinance that would force audits on companies that generate large amounts of trash. If they’re found to be sorting trash improperly they could be forced to hire a permanent trash sorter at $40/hour; if they don’t hire a sorter the city could fine them $1,000 per day.

Companies in San Francisco say they’re willing to help fix the problem, they just don’t’ like the city’s proposed solution.

Pete Sittnick owns Waterbar and Epic restaurants on the Embarcardero. He already has kitchen staff who spend two-to-three hours a day sorting trash and driving compostable and recyclable materials to and from Pier 26. The new city ordinance could force him to hire a permanent sorter.

“We have a hard enough time finding people to work as it is and to have one person solely dedicated to trash is a financial hardship,” said Sittnick.

“We’re saying you need to have someone on site that’s going to dig in deep and focus on sorting the trash in a better way,” said Safai. “When you reduce the amount you send to the landfill you get a credit on your garbage bill and often that already pays for the sorters themselves.”

Last year citywide, 60 percent of what was sent to the landfill could have been recycled. Safai says this legislation will force behavior to change.

“We have to hold these large trash generators accountable because you and I are going to pay for that,” said Safai.

“The intent is good. The way it’s being enforced as it’s written now is not,” said Sittnick.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposed ordinance on Thursday night. If passed, it would take effect in July 2019.

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