An impossible dream? San Diego officials are planning for a day when every scrap of trash is recycled. In other words, zero waste.

Map of Miramar Landfill in San Diego. Image via sandiego.gov

Towards that end, San Diego’s Environmental Services Department has scheduled meetings, beginning tonight (Wednesday), to develop what it calls a Zero Waste Plan. 

As part of the process, the agency is conducting a series of “stakeholder meetings” to engage residents, businesses, the solid waste industry, nonprofits and others.

They’ll cover funding mechanisms, existing programs and new programs to get the city towards 75 percent reduction by 2020 and zero waste by 2040, the city says.

A major reason for the goal: The Miramar Landfill is running out of space, and the state is requiring municipalities to reduce its landfill-bound waste by 75 percent by 2020.

In San Diego last year, about 68 percent of the city’s waste stream was diverted through recycling and other means. That figure that has been virtually unchanged over three years, according to city documents.

“We have to come up with alternatives,” City Councilman Scott Sherman said in December. “We just do.”

City staffers will develop the plan in detail and bring it back to a City Council committee next spring. The goal is to have the city divert all waste from landfills by 2040 through conservation, recycling and composting.

In California, 15 cities and several large corporations have zero-waste policies, according to a staff report.

If the plan is implemented, the city could expand the recycling of yard waste, develop infrastructure to divert food waste, make regulations to support the initiative and change funding resources for recycling programs. No new penalties for non-compliance are contemplated.

City leaders are developing an ordinance that would reduce the number of plastic shopping bags handed out by stores.

The Miramar Landfill is slated to close in 2022. It could stay open longer if more of the city’s trash stream is diverted, according to the city’s Environmental Services Department.

Zero Waste Stakeholder Meetings:
 
SESSION 1: Preliminary ESD Strategies, Global and National Initiatives, & Stakeholder Feedback

  • Wednesday, July 23: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 9601 Ridgehaven Ct.
  • Thursday, July 24: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Metro Biosolids Conference Center, 5240 Convoy St.
  •  
    The first Zero Waste Stakeholder session will be conducted in three parts. The Environmental Services Department will present the preliminary proposed strategies that will get the city to Zero Waste while maintaining financial viability. Next, an overview of global and national zero waste strategies will be covered. Lastly, stakeholders will be given time to provide ideas to and discuss with ESD staff.
     
    SESSION 2: Overview and Analysis of Stakeholder Input

  • Wednesday, Aug. 27: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 9601 Ridgehaven Ct.
  • Thursday, Aug. 28: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Metro Biosolids Conference Center, 5240 Convoy St.
  •  
    ESD staff will take the stakeholder input provided from the first session and apply it to the proposed preliminary strategies.  A revised version of the proposed strategies will be presented and stakeholders will be able to provide further input.
     
    SESSION 3: Draft Plan Presentation for Consultation and Feedback

  • Wednesday, Sept. 10: 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 9601 Ridgehaven Ct.
  • Thursday, Sept. 11: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Metro Biosolids Conference Center, 5240 Convoy St.
     
  • Taking into consideration stakeholder feedback from the previous sessions, ESD will compose a draft Zero Waste Plan and present an overview of the plan to the stakeholders.  This will be an opportunity for participants to see the plan components in further detail and provide feedback.
     
    SESSION 4: Finalizing the Draft Plan for City Council

  • Monday, Sept. 22: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Metro Biosolids Conference Center, 5240 Convoy St.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 23: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 9601 Ridgehaven Ct.
  • For more information, questions or comments, please go to recyclingworks.com.

    — City News Service contributed to this report.

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