San Diego launches new era of food waste composting

by on August 25, 2011 · 8 comments

in Environment, San Diego

By Mike Lee/

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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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty Jones August 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

This is fantastic and I’m glad it’s finally getting started. It would be great if during the time before they actually start picking up residential food waste there was a place (like the neighborhood grocery store) where we could take the food waste from our homes.


Patty Jones August 25, 2011 at 9:27 am

The other thing that just blows my mind is,

“the Sheraton is capturing more than five tons a week of trimmings from the kitchens and scrapings from plates”

wow. just wow.


RB August 25, 2011 at 10:41 am

I have had a compose bin at home for several years. They had a county program several years ago that sold the bins to reduce home waste. And every year at the Del Mar Fair they have a booth were you can get help too. The bins drastically reduces your cost for potting soil, fertilizer and I have not needed to buy tomato plants for several years. Tomato plants spontaneously appear in the decomposed soil usually when you use the soil in pots or in your garden.

Don’t forget the coffee grounds. They are great for the compose pile.


Citizen Cane August 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I compost yard and food waste, but I wish we had a local drop for yard waste. Sometimes I have more than my composter can handle. I’d rather drive to Robb Field than go all the way to the Miramar Nursery.

I notice a lot of small landscapers/gardeners in OB that don’t have trailers or cans for the waste they generate. They don’t recycle. They just toss their waste in the black residential trash bins. They don’t want to drive all the way to Miramar either.


eastcounty dude August 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Out cheer in East County we have 3 “trash” cans that are picked up by the local city: garbage, recycling, and garden/ landscape green waste. You big-city folk outta get it together.


Patty Jones August 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm

lol, thanks eastcountydude!


Citizen Cane August 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Does anybody know what happens to food waste at OB Peoples Food & Deli? It seems to me that such high quality waste should go to an organic farm rather than the city recycling center.


Sunshine August 26, 2011 at 10:13 am

i compost everything that came from the earth and was not processed before purchase. egg shells, fruit & vege peelings, coffee grounds, and even tea leaves (no staples though from tea bags). year after year I enjoy some of the riches, deepest, darkest compost and I know its organic as I made it myself. My garden loves it, the tree near where the open bottomed container is tucked in the garden loves it, and I feel good for honoring Mother Earth. I’ve been doing this since the 70’s ~ even when my folks thought I was nuts for ‘burying’ food in the yard.


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