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Trash Going Into Miramar Landfill Up 11% Since The Beginning Of The Pandemic

Trash piled up at the Miramar Landfill, June 24, 2019.
Matt Hoffman
Trash piled up at the Miramar Landfill, June 24, 2019.

It’s something most of us don’t think twice about. You put your trash and recyclables in a bin or dumpster, and that’s it.

But since the beginning of the pandemic, a lot more trash has been going to the Miramar Landfill.

Trash Going Into Miramar Landfill Up 11% Since The Beginning Of The Pandemic
Listen to this story by John Carroll.

“We noticed the increase in residential refuse and recycling from city residents actually in March,” said San Diego Deputy Director of Environmental Services Matthew Cleary.


March 2020 was the unofficial beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mid-month, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order and more trash and recyclables started pouring into Miramar.

“Our tons were up about 2,000 tons the week, the month of March. It was almost immediate,” Cleary said.

But why? Did people all of a sudden start using and then throwing away more stuff?

Yes, but Cleary said it’s because many of us are at home a lot more than in pre-pandemic times.

“People are working at home, students are learning from home. We attribute the increase in tonnage to just that,” he said.


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And that brings us to what folks in Cleary’s business call the “waste stream,” and a further explanation of the increase in what the city is collecting.

For franchise haulers — companies like EDCO and Republic that collect business and commercial trash — it’s just the opposite.

“I think the franchise haulers are seeing a decrease in commercial tons," Cleary said.

But Cleary said the commercial haulers are seeing an increase in residential waste as well, and all their trash ends up in Miramar too.

So, will the landfill fill up sometime soon? Cleary said that's not a worry at the moment.

“Eventually there will be a hard stop, however that is not within the next three or four years and the city is always looking at options to extend the life of the landfill,” he said.

For now, Cleary said we can all help in extending the life of the landfill. Think about buying things with as little packaging as possible.

Beyond that, make sure you’re recycling everything you can.

"Ensuring that the proper materials are being recycled so that they’re not going into the landfill. I think that would be extremely beneficial to increasing the life of the Miramar Landfill," Cleary said.

The Miramar Landfill opened in 1959. The date it will have to close is partly up to all of us, what we buy, and how we dispose of it.