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San Diego Rolls out New Organic Waste Recycling Program

SAN DIEGO–Starting this month, the City of San Diego will begin implementing its new Organic Waste Recycling program for its residents.

The program is the product of SB 1383, passed in 2016 and effective in January 2022. One of the goals of the law is to divert 50 percent of organic waste from landfills below 2014 level by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025.

San Diego’s Environmental Services department will provide kitchen pails and green recycling bins to over 267,000 residences starting this month in a phased program. It is expected that all residents will have access to these bins by the end of August 2023.

For helpful tips and technical assistance for setting up organic waste recycling at your site, please contact the city at or 858-694-7000.

Businesses can learn more about the City of San Diego’s Commercial Food Scraps Composting Program on the city’s website.

Reasons for the change

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, organic waste accounts for a significant portion of California’s waste stream.

When organic waste is left to decompose in landfills, it releases methane, a gas that traps the sun’s heat, warms the atmosphere, and contributes to climate change, according to the city’s Environmental Services website. The decomposition also emits air pollutants such as fine particulate matter—also known as PM 2.5—which contributes to health conditions like asthma.

Implementing SB 1383

Beyond simply collecting and recycling organic waste, SB 1383 requires municipalities to use the products made from this recycled organic material, such as renewable energy, compost, and mulch. It also requires certain food service businesses to donate edible food to organizations, with the goal of redirecting 20 percent of such food waste to people in need.

Cities in the same county are also asked to collaborate with each other and local organizations to better recycle organic waste, recover edible food, and maintain records demonstrating how they are complying with the law. These records will assist regulated entities with preparing for compliance inspections required by local and state agencies.

Other portions of SB 1383 include reporting requirements, various waivers and exemptions, and even a portal where people can file complaints for lack of recycling services, improper labeling of bins, and other solid waste concerns.

Mark Mathews

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