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San Diego Moving Toward Zero-Waste Policy

The San Diego City Council directed its staff Monday to come up with a plan for reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfills and to eventually stop it altogether.

The Miramar Landfill is running out of space, and the state is requiring municipalities to reduce its landfill-bound waste by 75 percent by 2020.

In San Diego last year, about 68 percent of the city's waste stream was diverted through recycling and other means. That figure that has been virtually unchanged over three years, according to city documents.

"We have to come up with alternatives," City Councilman Scott Sherman said. "We just do."

City staffers will develop the plan in detail and bring it back to a City Council committee next spring. The goal is to have the city divert all waste from landfills by 2040 through conservation, recycling and composting.

In California, 15 cities and several large corporations have zero-waste policies, according to a staff report.

If the plan is implemented, the city could expand the recycling of yard waste, develop infrastructure to divert food waste, make regulations to support the initiative and change funding resources for recycling programs. No new penalties for non-compliance are contemplated.

City leaders are developing an ordinance that would reduce the number of plastic shopping bags handed out by stores.

The Miramar Landfill is slated to close in 2022. It could stay open longer if more of the city's trash stream is diverted, according to the city's Environmental Services Department.

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