Get Ready to Compost: San Diego's New Green Recycling Kicks into High Gear with Trash Deliveries and Awareness Activities

Get Ready to Compost: San Diego’s New Green Recycling Kicks into High Gear with Trash Deliveries and Awareness Activities

San Diego’s efforts to comply with a new state law requiring the recycling of yard waste and food scraps will kick into high gear next month when delivery of 267,000 new green recycling bins begins in the city ​​homes.

The first wave of bins will be delivered in January and February to homes where trash is picked up on Wednesdays. Homes with Thursday garbage pickup will receive bins in March and April, and the process will continue until all bins are delivered in August.

Dozens of new green recycling trucks are coming to town this month, and new drivers have been hired, with the help of $2,500 signing bonuses, to operate those trucks when collections begin this month. next.

City officials have also launched an aggressive education and awareness campaign to help residents understand their obligations under the new law. Residents should separate food waste and food-soiled paper products from their garbage.

In addition to the new bins, each customer will receive a plastic kitchen bucket so food scraps can be stored under sinks or elsewhere in the kitchen until customers are ready to take this waste to their recycling bin. green.

The city is expected to begin imposing fines in January 2024 for non-compliance with the new law, SB 1383.

A smooth transition to green waste recycling for both residents and city employees is the city’s primary goal, said Renee Robertson, director of the San Diego Department of Environmental Services.

“We strive to make sure everyone has the tools they need to feel comfortable,” she said. “It’s a huge effort, and no matter how well you plan, there will be setbacks and problems to overcome.”

The state law aims to address climate change by reducing the amount of methane emitted from landfills from decaying organic matter like food and yard waste that could instead have been composted for reuse.

The new bins and trucks will provide service to homes across the city that have free collection and recycling service. These are primarily single-family homes, but also include condos and apartments where individual units have street access.

The new state law also requires green recycling at San Diego businesses, apartment complexes and condominiums that are serviced by private carriers instead of city trucks.

The city negotiated new agreements with its eight private carriers this fall that require them to start providing green recycling. Robertson said carriers will likely have all of their new green bins delivered by March — months ahead of the city.

Private carriers are expected to pass the cost of the new green recycling service on to their customers in the form of higher monthly fees.

San Diego officials say adding green recycling has increased the city’s annual costs for free trash and recycling services by more than $25 million a year. This does not include an additional $30 million in one-time costs for new bins and trucks.

The burden of these new costs was to fall entirely on city taxpayers until voters approved Measure B in the Nov. 8 ballot. The measure allows the city to begin charging monthly fees to homes that have received pickup at no additional cost.

The confusion and chaos are expected to begin on Jan. 11 when the first bins are delivered, with many being left next to parked cars and in other potentially awkward places, Robertson said.

“We hope everyone can understand this one-time inconvenience and help make sure their neighbor gets the right bin,” Robertson said, noting that bins will be delivered to streets but not alleys.

Residents will receive one of three green bin sizes – 35 gallons, 65 gallons or 95 gallons.

The 95-gallon bins will go to regular single-family homes, and the 35-gallon bins will go to residents living in apartments and condos. The 65 gallon bins will go to people with space constraints or narrow passages to access a street.

Any customer who wants a different size bin than the one they received has 14 days from the delivery date to request a replacement bin on the Get it Done! tipster app or by calling the Department of Environmental Services.

While bins will be delivered based on the day of trash pickup, priority will be given within each group to neighborhoods that scored highest on the city’s Climate Equity Index.

The index, created in 2019, measured which low-income and ethnically diverse urban neighborhoods are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Green recycling collections will begin one week after the delivery of the new kitchen bins and buckets. Residents will receive instructions on what can be placed in the new bins one to two months before delivery.

City officials send all customers multicolored guides with illustrations and instructions in several languages.

They have also planned four awareness sessions to help low-income residents. They will be held January 21 at the Logan Heights Library, February 4 at the Linda Vista Recreation Center, February 18 at the Skyline Hills Library, and March 4 at the San Ysidro Library. Contact the sites for specific times.

Organic waste eligible for green bins includes fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy products, bread, baked goods, coffee filters, paper towels, paper bags, parchment paper, grass, leaves, flowers, plant clippings and non-hazardous wood.

Chicken meat and bones are also eligible for green recycling, but they should be carefully stored in kitchen buckets or frozen to avoid odors, Robertson said, noting that city officials try to keep things simple to residents early.

“What we’re really focusing on are those early wins for them to continue to be in the program,” she said.

The city’s instructional guides also explain how to effectively clean the new green bins and kitchen buckets.

The new trucks have a different body type than the city’s existing garbage trucks, and they have a blue stripe instead of the orange stripe on the existing trucks.

San Diego is also building a new organics recycling plant to compost any organic waste the city will collect. It will replace the Miramar greenery at the city landfill.

City officials are also still working on a plan to better connect local food banks to restaurants and grocery stores that typically throw away large amounts of food. Robertson said she expects companies to start slowly and then slowly increase what they send to food banks.

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