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International Business Machines Corp. : Recology Teams with IBM in Quest to Help San Francisco Become First City in North America to Achieve Zero Waste

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05/31/2012 | 03:05pm CEST

ARMONK, N.Y. and SAN FRANCISCO, May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE:IBM) announced today a collaboration with Recology, San Francisco's resource recovery company, to continue reducing landfill disposal by further improving recycling programs designed to help the city achieve zero waste by 2020.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/recology-teams-with-ibm-in-quest-to-help-san-francisco-become-first-city-in-north-america-to-achieve-zero-waste-155861775.html

To participate in a tweet chat on sustainability please follow @SustainableIBM and look for hashtag #zerowasteIBM on June 1 at 1 pm EDT.

San Francisco's diversion rate -- the amount of waste diverted from landfill disposal -- totals 78 percent, the highest in the country. Just last year, independent studies named San Francisco the Greenest City in North America due to advanced recycling programs.*

In collaboration with IBM Business Partner Key Info Systems, Recology is using IBM's Smarter Computing approach to IT to manage and mine large sets of data to determine types and quantities of materials in San Francisco's waste stream. With the use of IBM's Power System, Recology pinpoints the location, types and amount of waste that needs to be collected for sorting or composting.

Gleaning insights from this information allows Recology to identify the most effective recycling programs for different business districts and neighborhoods. By tailoring recycling programs and services in this way, Recology operates more efficiently, which helps protect the environment and saves costs, which helps cities better manage collection and disposal fees -- all steps that ultimately benefit residents and businesses.

As a result of this smarter approach to recycling, Recology customers in San Francisco have reduced the garbage they send to the landfill by 49.7 percent, from 730,000 tons in 2000 to 367,300 tons in 2011. By recycling 1.2 million tons of paper, the program has saved 20 million trees; by recycling 174,000 tons of glass, enough energy was saved to power the city's cable car system for nearly three years; and, by recycling 135,000 tons of metal, 19 million gallons of oil was saved.

Improved recycling services give customers the means to participate every day in programs that directly benefit the environment and to better manage their disposal costs. Recology offers 20 distinct recycling programs in San Francisco, more than any other city in the U.S. Yet the monthly fee paid by residential customers is equal to or less than the fee charged in other major cities.

The Curbside Compost Collection Program provided by Recology in San Francisco has diverted 1.1 million tons of food and plants from landfill disposal and turned that material into nutrient-rich compost used by local farms and vineyards to grow healthy crops.

Since its inception, the compost collection program has reduced carbon emissions by more than 347,500 metric tons. That is equal to offsetting emissions from all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for 2.1 years.**

San Francisco greenhouse gas emissions are nearly 12 percent below 1990 levels and have exceeded emission reduction goals set by both the State of California and the United Nations.

"San Francisco continues to make progress toward our Zero Waste goal and we have achieved the highest diversion rate of any major city in the country. Our success stems from a strong partnership with our diverse communities and our commitment to making recycling easy and convenient for everyone. I thank IBM for providing innovative solutions that have contributed to making San Francisco the greenest city in North America," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said.

Recology serves 700,000 residential and commercial locations in 50 cities and manages a fleet of 1,400 vehicles. In San Francisco alone, the company handles nearly 3,000 tons of material a day.

"Cities are struggling with a wide range of challenges and threats to sustainability in their core operations," said George McGrath, Chief Operating Officer at Recology. "Our collaboration with IBM has helped us transform the programs we provide in San Francisco and, in turn, the very way people view bottles, coffee grounds, packaging, plastic bags, and other materials they generate every day."

With the use of IBM's Smarter Computing technology Recology is able to manage and maintain this complex operation and route dispatching of trucks. These functions require a dependable and flexible system to help the company manage logistics and an ever-changing waste stream with maximum efficiency.

"The demand for recovered and recycled materials is large, worldwide, and growing," said Heather Achilles, Distinguished Engineer, IBM Research. "Because of the high value of recycled materials, we're seeing a shift away from 'waste management' and toward 'resource management' as an emerging industry. Recology is an example if businesses recognize that using smarter computing technology to better understand existing data about material that can be recovered from what was once considered trash is key to this industry transformation."

Review and download text and photos on www.RecologyMedia.com

For general information on Recology, visit www.recology.com

For more information on Key Info Systems, visit http://www.keyinfo.com/

For more information on IBM's Smarter Cities, please visit www.ibm.com/smartercities

* U.S. and Canada Green City Index, Economist Intelligence Unit.

**Total CO2E benefit (methane avoided and carbon sequestered) calculated per protocol set by the Climate Action Registry.


Robert Reed

Lizette Kodama
IBM Media Relations

Jenny Hunter
IBM Media Relations

SOURCE IBM Corporation

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