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Some San Diego leaders visited the composting facility at the Miramar Landfill Wednesday to highlight new citywide efforts to divert organic waste from the city’s landfills, to comply with a new state law that changes how California recycles.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Mayor Todd Gloria and Council President Sean Elo-Rivera stood at the Miramar Greenery, where San Diego’s yard waste and other organic materials are turned into mulch, compost and wood chips.

The Greenery’s workload is set to increase with the new state recycling law, SB 1383, which mandates a reduction in the amount of organic waste, such as food scraps, food-soiled paper, yard cuttings, organic textiles, carpets and wood waste, to be disposed of in landfills.

San Diego officials have said they will spend $15 million to buy 240,000 green recycling bins and kitchen pails so city residents can begin separating their organic waste. Also, this summer the city will expand its green waste pick-ups to once a week, said Renee Robertson, director of the city’s Environmental Services Department.

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All of San Diego’s organic waste will then be turned into mulch and compost at the Miramar Greenery. Residents who want some can take up to 2 cubic yards of the compost or mulch, which can be used as fertilizer, for free per trip.

Gloria said keeping organic waste out of landfills, where it rots and gives off methane, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“If we let this material go into our landfill, we’re missing out on the opportunity to recycle it into soil-enriching compost or even into energy,” Gloria added.

CalRecycle, the state agency charged with overseeing recycling efforts in California, says organic waste makes up more than half the trash dumped in California’s landfills each year.

Overall about 39 percent of what San Diegans throw away is organic waste and 15 percent of that is food waste, Robertson said. She described the methane from organic waste as a “climate super pollutant” that is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Organic waste recycling is a crucial part of the city’s climate action initiative known as “Our Climate, Our Future,” which sets a goal of reaching zero net emissions by 2035, Elo-Rivera said.

City staff also plans to implement various edible food recovery programs, along with outreach and education campaigns, to encourage residents to give away food that can still be eaten, rather than throw it away, Elo-Rivera added.

The public is invited to provide input on the city’s climate action plan at sandiego.gov/CAP.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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