- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at their April 26 meeting to set a new goal of 75% diversion by 2025 for the county's unincorporated areas, as reported by CBS News 8.
- San Diego County's unincorporated areas had a 62% diversion rate in 2015. Supervisors had previously discussed a goal of 90% diversion by 2040, but were advised by staff to wait on implementing that until the 2025 goal is achieved.
- In order to pay for this new diversion plan, the board voted to increase the franchise fee paid by private haulers for the first time in 20 years. The current fee of $2.35 per ton will be increased to $6.96 per ton by October — with the exception of dirt, rock, sand and other similar materials.
According to a report from the meeting, more than 475,000 tons of waste from unincorporated areas are disposed of in the county's landfills each year. The report notes that available funding for county waste management programs had decreased as diversion rates increase, which was a main factor in the decision to raise franchise fees. If the board had chosen to set the goal of 75% diversion by 2020 the proposed fee increase would have been even higher. Another factor in deciding on a longer timeframe was ensuring that private industry would have enough time to make the necessary infrastructure investments.
Preserving landfill capacity and avoiding expansion expenses were cited as some of the main factors in the board's decision. This has become even more relevant since plans for the long-delayed Gregory Canyon Landfill were officially canceled last fall. While capacity isn't an imminent issue in the county, this new goal will help align their efforts more closely with existing diversion plans at the state and municipal level.
California has a mandate of 75% diversion by 2020 and the city of San Diego has set the same goal, with plans to achieve "zero waste" by 2040. Earlier this year, the San Diego City Council approved a plan for city departments to achieve 50% diversion by 2020 as part of these efforts. The county also plans to rethink waste policies at its own facilities to help achieve the 2025 goal. As recently highlighted by New York's state government, improving internal reduction and diversion systems can potentially lead to millions of dollars in savings.