San Diego city government sets internal goal for 50% diversion by 2020

Dive Brief:

  • On Monday, the San Diego City Council endorsed a plan for city departments to reach 50% waste diversion by 2020, as reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune. The plan includes increasing education for city employees, adding more recycling bins to city parks and boosting recycling efforts across the 250 city-owned buildings.
  • A 2015 survey put the city's internal diversion rate at 27%, though officials say that number is actually higher due to multiple programs underway in different departments that weren't known at the time. 
  • San Diego had set a goal of reaching "zero waste" by 2040, yet this participation from city leaders will be necessary in order to reach that goal. In 2016, department heads completed a year of "benchmarking" with recycling officials to determine the best methods for improving recycling citywide.

Dive Insight:

San Diego's current overall recycling rate is reported as 67%, which is higher than many other cities of its size though still below the state's mandated target of 75% by 2020. This is part of an ambitious push by California to reduce emissions and increase recycling for a variety of materials. Though the state saw its progress reverse slightly during 2015 it is still far ahead of many others.

The fact that some city departments had already taken steps to offer larger recycling bins, add reusable silverware to kitchens and recycle scrap metal and tires is a sign that California's recycling culture is having an effect. Though when it comes to items such as polystyrene containers the city has been more cautious than some of its counterparts and held off on regulating the material. 

As is the case with many urban areas, landfill capacity is also driving some of San Diego's efforts. These ongoing "zero waste" efforts have been recognized as helping extend the lifespan of the city's only active landfill until about 2030. Though regional capacity is still a concern after plans for the proposed Gregory Canyon Landfill in San Diego County were canceled per an agreement with the Pala Band of Mission Indians last fall.

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Filed Under: Recycling Regulation Waste Diversion
Top image credit: Utility Dive