By Mike Lee/SignOnSanDiego.com
A garbage truck on Tuesday morning picked up food scraps from seven grocery stores around San Diego and chugged to Miramar Landfill in what normally would have been an unremarkable moment.
But instead of turning into the zone for dumping trash, it delivered the mash of fruit, pastries and similar items to the composting yard and launched what many around the region hope is a new era of waste-reduction.
The deposit marked the start of Waste Management’s first dedicated food-waste route in the county. The pilot program is poised to expand such that city waste officials predict food collections will double over the next few years and eventually reach into residential neighborhoods much like blue bins for recycling bottles and cans slowly became the norm.
“It’s a fantastic moment,” said Ana Carvalho, food waste expert for San Diego’s Environmental Services Department. “It’s going to go well and that will open other doors for growth.”
Food might seem inconsequential in the vast stream of garbage but it’s the second-largest category of municipal solid waste generated nationwide, with some 34 million tons a year. Only about 3 percent of it is recycled, creating the largest single segment of discarded goods in the nation and what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls a “staggering” problem.
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