- A California landfill owned and operated by Republic Services is set to move forward with an expansion plan after the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted this week to deny an appeal by the area's Farm Bureau Federation, the Stockton Record reported.
- Republic is seeking to expand the 567-acre Forward Landfill in Manteca by 17.3 acres, extending its lifespan from 2030 to 2036. The project will allow for the processing of an additional 8.2 million cubic yards of waste across two parts of the site. The Farm Bureau has argued the expansion could jeopardize food safety at farms throughout the county, in addition to causing environmental problems.
- While the Farm Bureau has indicated the group may continue fighting, Republic is moving forward with its plans. "With yesterday’s vote, Forward Landfill will be able to continue providing safe and responsible disposal options for a community we are honored to serve," a spokesperson for the company told Waste Dive this week.
The landfill's expansion plan comes as California is increasingly moving toward cracking down on the state's waste stream and embracing dramatic organics diversions efforts.
Under the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Reduction Strategy, or SB 1383, the state established a 50% reduction rate by 2020 over 2014 levels. That number will increase to 75% by 2025, with an emphasis on diverting food waste specifically.
In addition to those measures, many of the state's landfills have faced an uphill battle, as local officials and residents express resistance to development and expansion plans. San Francisco, to the west of San Joaquin County, has notably long sought to make landfills obsolete. While plans for the Forward Landfill run counter to that trend, the state's waste disposal needs have also persisted.
Previous efforts to expand the Forward Landfill failed, and farmers in particular have resisted the plan this time around.
"Keeping trash out of our fields is not possible with the way this landfill operates," argued David Strecker, president of the county Farm Bureau, in a Jan. 5 op-ed.
Strecker also said the landfill would compromise flight safety, with the Stockton Metropolitan Airport located not far from the site, because it attracts birds. Opponents of the expansion moreover maintain the landfill takes in waste from other parts of the state, making the county a "dumping ground" for other Californians. They want additional environmental inspections on top of the impact statement already provided.
During the Jan. 7 meeting considering the expansion, Farm Bureau Executive Director Bruce Blodgett categorized the decision as "a time to look at our future." He asserted that supporting the landfill expansion would harm prospects for farming and other industries in the area.
Both the area airport director and its deputy support the project, however, and officials seem unconvinced by counterarguments. While county supervisors expressed sympathy with farmers, Vice Chair Tom Patti asserted that Strecker's claims were "exaggerations." A presentation on the landfill during the meeting also categorized the project's environmental and health impacts as not being significant enough to warrant granting an appeal. Only one board member, Chuck Winn, ultimately voted in support.
The Farm Bureau did not respond to a request for comment from Waste Dive about how the organization intends to proceed.
While efforts to extend the life of such a site are becoming less common in California, the Forward Landfill isn't an outlier. Plans to expand the Miramar Landfill in San Diego are also moving forward, after gaining key approval from the city last year.