A new recycling program that collects leftover food scraps from local businesses is helping the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and meet its zero waste goals. In August of last year, the city partnered with Waste Management to launch its Food Scraps Recycling Program, which diverts food scraps from going to landfill.
The program has been in the making for several years after the state passed more aggressive mandates requiring businesses to divert organics from landfills. Oceanside’s program helps the city meet those requirements as well as its own zero waste goals, which set a goal of reaching a 75-90% waste diversion rate by 2020. “We’re currently at 67%,” said Colleen Foster, the city’s environmental officer in the Water Utilities Department. With the new food scraps program, Foster anticipates seeing that rate rise 8-10% in the next year.
Instead of throwing away food scraps — everything from meat, bones, dairy, fruits, vegetables and even food-soiled paper containers and towels — with the rest of the trash, those scraps go into a separate bin to be collected through the program. When food scraps and other organics sit in a landfill, they generate methane gas, which is one of the most potent greenhouse gasses. By diverting organics and food scraps from the landfill, the methane gas production from those landfills is reduced.
Since the beginning of Oceanside’s program, more than 2,600 cubic yards of organics have been diverted from the landfill, which according to the Water Utilities Department is the equivalent of taking 940 cars off the road every month.