Mayor Gloria plans to divert organic waste from landfill for climate goals
Mayor Todd Gloria and City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera Wednesday announced an update to San Diego's climate action initiative, intended to increase efforts to recycle organic waste and reduce the amount of food scraps and yard waste disposed of in landfills.
"In order for San Diego to be a global leader on climate action, we must look at all possible ways to combat the climate crisis," Gloria said. "This includes keeping organic waste out of our landfills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with State Senate Bill 1383. It's a crucial part of meeting our updated climate goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2035."
According to city figures, around 39% of San Diegans' trash is organic waste — 15% of which is food waste. In the update to the "Our Climate, Our Future" climate action initiative, the city will make investments to reduce the amount of organic waste sent to the landfill, where it rots and gives off methane.
Instead, the city's efforts intend organic waste to be recycled into mulch and compost to improve soil quality.
"The urgency of the climate crisis requires we leave no stone unturned when it comes to climate action," Elo-Rivera said. "Zero waste goals are often an overlooked component of the city's Climate Action Plan, but waste diversion is crucial to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
"Implementing organic waste recycling is an important step toward achieving those reductions, and I look forward to the city engaging San Diego residents on how they can help combat climate change through this new service," he said.
California's SB 1383 requires the reduction of organic waste — such as food scraps, food-soiled paper, yard waste, organic textiles, carpets and wood waste — disposed of in landfills.
"Organic waste recycling is a game-changer, it is one of fastest ways to curb climate change," said Renee Robertson, San Diego's Environmental Services Department director. "It requires food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard trimmings to be diverted from the landfill. California is also working toward a 2025 goal to redirect and donate 20% of edible food that is currently wasted to those in need."
Some of the tangible efforts the city will begin include:
— Outreach and education campaigns;
— Edible food recovery programs; and
— New organic waste containers and collection services.
The city will also partner with residents and businesses to assist in waste-reduction efforts, a statement from Gloria's office read.
"Since its inception, Kitchens for Good has reclaimed food destined for the landfill and used it in apprentice instruction and hunger-relief meal production," said Ryan Rizzuto, executive chef at Kitchens for Good. "When COVID-19 hit, we had to ramp up our meal production significantly and revisit our approach.
"Historically, we rescued about 50,000 pounds of produce each year. We decided to change our focus to inspiring our apprentices, restaurant and hospitality partners — and our communities' consumers — to reduce their food waste by 5%," Rizzuto added. "This way, by reaching just 5,000 people, we could help keep approximately 500,000 pounds of food out of the landfill each year."