The San Diego Zoo was hailed for recycling electricity via a one-megawatt energy battery. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego is honoring 10 local businesses and organizations — including three schools — that put into effect or expanded waste reduction and recycling programs, it was announced Wednesday.

From establishing a cigarette butt collection and recycling program to creating a system to track solid waste tonnage to identifying diversion opportunities, the 2020 Business Waste Reduction and Recycling Award winners displayed “forward thinking” in their programs, city leaders said.

“By reducing their carbon footprint in our communities, these workplaces are showing the community they care about the city’s future,” said Environmental Services Interim Director Gene Matter. “We applaud these businesses and organizations for leading the way to a greener environment and exhibiting a strong determination to make a difference for generations to come.”

According to Matter, these businesses and organizations are helping the city reach its Climate Action Plan goal of achieving “Zero Waste” by 2040.

Zero Waste is a principle that focuses on waste prevention, recycling, composting and other technologies to extend the life of the Miramar Landfill.

Award winners have also shown their waste reduction programs lead to greater efficiency and contribute to their bottom line. The list of winners, recognized for work completed in 2019:

  • LJ Crafted Wines. Wine membership utilizes reusable bottles with swing tops that are returned and exchanged for a sanitized bottle where customers choose which wines they want, directly from the barrel. This avoids single-use bottles, foils, corks and cartons.
  • San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Established a cigarette butt collection and recycling program. The butts are collected and shipped to TerraCycle which composts the cigarette paper and tobacco. The plastic filters are recycled and turned into outdoor benches and tables. A total of 17 pounds were collected in 2019.
  • San Diego Mesa College. Composted 16.34 tons of pre-consumer food scraps from campus cafeterias and coffee shops for use in the on-campus garden.
  • UC San Diego. All construction and demolition projects are required to divert 75% of debris from the landfill.
  • San Diego State University. Implemented the SkySpark solid waste tracking system, an online, interactive waste dashboard that tracks tonnages specific to buildings on campus to help analyze and identify diversion opportunities.
  • Jansen R&D. Efforts taken to become a paperless facility, such as a switch to digital signage to reduce the number of posters and flyers, and canceled subscriptions to scientific paper publications encouraging use of the centralized library with online journals.
  • Hazard Center. Hosted annual Recycle/Spring Clean Up event for tenants to properly dispose of items that do not belong in the recycling container.
  • San Diego Zoo. Recycles electricity via a one-megawatt energy battery that stores and discharges energy during peak hours to assist with park operations.
  • Sharp Healthcare. Diverted 4.2 million pounds of material from the landfill. This included composting 500,000 pounds of food waste and reprocessing 106,000 pounds of surgical instruments. Expired, unusable medical equipment was donated to the nonprofit Ssubi is Hope.
  • And San Diego Food Bank. “Turbo Separator” takes unopened but damaged and inedible cans, boxes, and jars of food, and separates the food from the packaging for compost and recycling.
  • — City News Service

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