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San Diego Leaders, Environmentalists Gather For Zero Waste Symposium

Evening Edition

Aired 2/7/14 on KPBS News.

Zero Waste San Diego is hosting its first symposium Tuesday in Kearny Mesa, bringing together business leaders, nonprofits and local governments for a discussion on reusing or recycling all materials.

Zero Waste San Diego is hosting its first symposium Tuesday in Kearny Mesa, bringing together business leaders, nonprofits and local governments for a discussion on reusing or recycling all materials.

The event will feature 30 presentations by experts on zero waste principles, recycling, composting, plastic bag bans, marine pollution, policy and compliance with the state of California’s newest recycling legislation, AB 341.

The average person throws away 4.5 pounds of trash every day, including recyclable items like aluminum cans, newspaper, plastic cups and styrofoam food containers.

"Actually what I've really found trying to work with the community going on the road to zero waste its always a process. Its about behavior change," said Colleen Foster, a solid waste and recycling management analyst with Oceanside.

Foster helped 1,000 city employees in Oceanside reduce their waste to zero by simply removing their plastic trash cans and replacing them with much smaller ones. That forced everyone to think twice about what to do with their trash. 

"Just by implementing this program in our city facilities we've saved our waste and recycling services several thousand dollars a month in services because I basically took away all the trash dumpsters and brought recycling back in," she said.

The San Diego City Council in December directed city staff members to create a plan for reducing waste in landfills and ultimately moving toward zero waste as the Miramar Landfill is filling up.

“This is sure to be the first event of its kind in San Diego, and will bring together a diverse group of resource managers and Zero Waste experts,” said Rich Flammer, board member of Zero Waste San Diego. “Attendees will learn core principles of Zero Waste and hear lots of case studies from those who are actually implementing them on a day-to-day basis.”

In San Diego last year, nearly 70 percent of the city's waste stream was diverted through recycling and other means. That figure has remained unchanged over the past three years, according to city documents.

California set a goal in 2011 of 75 percent recycling, composting or source reduction of solid waste by 2020.

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