Continuing to promote “green” culture, County supervisors unanimously approved a pilot program Tuesday to keep food waste from six County cafeterias out of landfills and turn it into nutrient-rich compost to improve gardens and landscapes.
Led by current chairman Ron Roberts, the Board of Supervisors directed County staff in July to find ways to expand the County’s existing recycling and composting services.
With Tuesday’s vote, the new pilot program will install specially-marked or color-coded containers in the food preparation areas of six County-operated or leased cafeterias to collect and compost food waste.
“This pilot program will divert over 150 pounds of food waste per day, and in a year, will probably approach over 50,000 pounds of compostable food material each year,” Roberts said. “I think we’re at the start of something that would have very little cost associated with it and enormous benefits for all of us.”
The food waste collected from kitchen preparation areas — not from customer leftovers — will be hauled to the City of San Diego’s Food Recycling Program at the Miramar Landfill where it would be processed and turned into compost that can improve soils by increasing nitrogen levels and its ability to retain water.
The program is slated to start at six locations: the Polinsky Children’s Center in Kearny Mesa; the County Administration Center downtown; the County Child Welfare Services building in Linda Vista; the County Operations Center and County Operations Center Annex in Kearny Mesa; and the Health and Human Services Agency complex in Point Loma.
The County already contributes to regional composting efforts, which are credited with extending the life of landfills by keeping out green waste that can be recycled and re-used.
The County Department of General Services manages landscaping contracts for 79 County facilities, from buildings to parks. Green waste collected from those sites is hauled away and composted by individual composters or at other locations.
The County has also been a regional leader in the promotion and use of solar power, erecting solar panels to create electricity at County buildings and waiving building permit fees for County residents who put in solar panels.