RECYCLING: What Goes Where?

By Chris Duggan

Recycling is an innovation that has been around for decades. It may not seem as exciting as many of the new innovations being developed today such as artificial intelligence or using an app to order anything you need with just a swipe of your mobile device, but it is an innovation that is helping us preserve our planet and allowing us to become a more sustainable place to live.

Traditionally, there were just a few items that could be recycled curbside such as newspapers, aluminum cans, and some bottles. However, as a result of millions of dollars in R&D from manufacturers and innovative problem-solvers, today we are able to recycle more types of material than ever before.

This is exciting as recycling is allowing us to reduce waste in our landfills that will benefit our children and future generations as we work to maintain our beautiful community.

The San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association has been working closely with the City of San Diego on adding to what can be recycled to reduce litter and keep materials out of the landfill. This week, the nation recognizes America Recycles Day with the goal of motivating all of us to learn more about recyclable products, reducing our personal waste, and encouraging others to do the same.

Chris Duggan

The biggest challenge to recycling is that often residents do not know that many of our everyday products are not only recyclable but that they are accepted in the San Diego’s curbside recycling program.

San Diego has continued to demonstrate its leadership as it set an ambitious zero waste goal of 75 percent diversion by 2020, 90 percent diversion by 2035, with a goal of being “zero” waste by 2040. This goal is achievable but requires the city to identify substantive actions to make this goal a reality.

Just this year, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the entire City Council took great strides towards becoming a zero-waste city. This summer the City Council unanimously voted to allow foam no. 6, often mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam, to be recycled in residential curbside recycling bins, measure the restaurant association fully supported.

This change went into effect on July 1. Examples of foam include foam cups, food containers, as well as large molded blocks used to package electronics, such as TVs and computers. This means that each of us in the San Diego, including restaurants, can recycle — with ease and convenience — even more materials.

It is time for us to take a cue from our city government and help reach the ambitious zero waste goal. One simple way to make a difference is to learn what is recyclable in our residential curbside bins and make sure that we are enacting it in our everyday lives. You can check out the full list online.

And don’t forget to wipe all of your foil, glass, plastic and foam food packaging so it is free of food residue before depositing it you’re your recycling bin.

We all have a role to play in reducing waste and preserving our environment. It’s our responsibility as good stewards of our environment to renew our commitment to recycling and reducing waste in San Diego. Together, we can all help San Diego reach its goal.

Chris Duggan is the director of local government affairs for the San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association.