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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

La Mesa Will Soon Accept Food Waste From Residents

 March 11, 2021 at 11:09 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 The process of preparing household waste for recycling can be complicated, no plastic bags in the recycling bin. Make sure everything you put in is dry and by all means don't leave any uneaten pizza. And the pizza box in Lamesa though recycling is about to get much simpler and more environmentally friendly, a program called co-mingled organics. Recycling will start for single family residence next month, allowing those pizza slices to stay in the box and other food ways to become part of regular curbside recycling. Joining me is Hillary Eggo environmental program manager at the city of Lamesa and Hillary welcome. Thank you for having me. What has Lamesa been doing so far to reduce the amount of waste headed to the land? Speaker 2: 00:48 So the city works in partnership with our waste teller at co uh, to divert 50% of our waste from the landfill through our recycling programs and in 2018 Lamesa city council adopted a climate action plan. That includes a goal to divert 75% of our waste by 2035. And our city council are really strong proponents of our impact on the environment and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Currently residents are able to place items in their blue bin, including things like paper, cardboard, glass, and metals, and also a yard waste such as leaves and grass trimmings and their green bin. But as you mentioned earlier, starting in April and co is rolling out a new organics recycling program for single family resident homes. And with this program, residents are going to be able to put food scraps such as your banana peels and eggshells, um, or also food, soil papers. So things like napkins and pizza boxes, and those can be co-mingled with the yard waste in the green bin. Speaker 1: 01:49 Why is accepting food waste the next step in the city's effort? Speaker 2: 01:53 So the state of California has some state mandates that require organic recycling. And this is really to prevent these materials from ending up in the landfill because when these materials go in the landfill, they produce, uh, harmful greenhouse gas emissions. So by putting these in the green bin, we're going to be able to collect the waste and, uh, Coldwell then send it off to their new anaerobic digester. And a co has been a great partner in ensuring that we can meet these mandates. Speaker 1: 02:19 I'm going to ask you a question about that anaerobic digester in a minute, but I want to find out practically, how will it work for the Mesa residents say they're in CA in their kitchen cooking, or they're finishing up a meal? What kind of food waste can they recycle and where do they put it? Speaker 2: 02:35 When residents are at home in their kitchen, a great way to recycle their organics is to put aside things that are food scraps. So like your banana peels, um, also any peel peelings, um, if you are feeling a potato, but also any spoiled food from your fridge, uh, you know, that turns into science experiments and also, uh, food, soil paper. So things like your napkins and paper towels and pizza boxes are a really great one as well. And so those can go straight directly into the green bin. Uh, EDCO is providing a free kitchen pale for, uh, residents to be able to collect their kitchen scraps. And the best way to do that is to just put them directly into the kitchen caddy. And then from there, you know, not use any plastic bags or even those compostable bags, we recommend that you wrapped your scraps and things like newspapers or paper towels, and then those go straight directly into the green bin outside. Speaker 1: 03:30 Okay. Now onto anaerobic digestion, how is this recycled food waste processed? Speaker 2: 03:36 Great question. So it's definitely a really neat technology. That co has been a really great partner to ensure that we're able to send our waste there. So the anaerobic digester is actually an Escondido, so the waste will be collected in Lamesa and then transferred to their facility in Escondido. And what this does is all the organic waste material is placed inside the anaerobic digester where micro organisms and heat will break down the materials. And then it creates a bunch of byproducts, including things like fertilizers that can go back onto our local farms and also natural gas that will be used to power and coast trucks. And I don't want to get too into the details because we do have a webinar that will be later today, uh, from four to five where a co will be talking with us in partnership with, I love a clean San Diego to talk about more about the science behind their anaerobic digester and kind of the do's and don'ts of what you can put in the green bin and how the program will work. Speaker 1: 04:33 We all know that if we don't increase recycling, the waste is just going to wind up in the landfill. And why is it that we just don't let it go to the landfill? Why do we want to decrease that waste? Speaker 2: 04:44 This organic material has a lot of great nutrients and it would be wonderful if we can put that back into our local environment and back into our farms where these nutrients belong, instead of just going to a landfill and granted they will break down in a landfill, but they do take a lot of time. So it's really important that we are putting them and recycling them. So that way we can get them back into our environment. Speaker 1: 05:06 The Lamesa food waste recycling program begins for single family homes on April 1st and sometime this summer for apartments and businesses. Do you see this program as potentially a model for the rest of the County? Speaker 2: 05:19 Definitely a co is going to be rolling out this program to their franchise cities, uh, in a series of phases. And if you don't live in, Lamesa check with your local holler to see what their updates for organics recycling programs are going to be Speaker 1: 05:32 Fair enough. Then I've been speaking with Hilary Eggo environmental program manager at the city of Lamesa Hillary. Thanks very much. Thank you so much for having me. I love a clean San Diego is holding a webinar at 4:00 PM today on how the food waste will be processed. More information can be found@cleansd.org. Speaker 2: 05:51 Okay.

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Residents will put the food waste in their green bins and it will be processed at EDCO's new anaerobic digestion facility in Escondido. Microorganisms, along with heat, convert the material to natural gas and fertilizer.
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