Residents of Escondido and 11 other cities in San Diego County soon will be asked to place both food waste from their kitchens and organic materials from their yards into their green waste bins, under a new organic waste recycling program. The combined food waste and yard cuttings will be fed into an anaerobic digester, a project now under construction in Escondido, which will turn the waste generated by homes and businesses into fertilizer for farms and compressed natural gas to fuel vehicles. The new facility is expected to be up and running by February or March.

Businesses will be phased into the new organic waste recycling program over the next year, said Jim Ambroso, general manager of Escondido Disposal Inc., the private company that is building the anaerobic digester at its recycling center on West Washington Avenue. The new facility will help local cities meet their goals for recycling organic waste set by a state law. Under that law, California cities must divert 75 percent of their organic waste from landfills by Jan. 1, 2025, and businesses such as large restaurants, grocery stores and food wholesalers must reduce the food waste they generate by providing edible food to those who need it.

Reducing the amount of organic waste going into landfills will in turn decrease greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and alleviate the ill effects of climate change, such as record heat, wildfires, droughts, sea level rise and extreme weather events, according to CalRecycle, the state agency charged with overseeing recycling efforts in California. The agency said that organic waste including food scraps and yard cuttings make up more than half of the trash dumped in California’s landfills each year.

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Author: Joe Tash, San Diego Union Tribune
Image: San Diego Union Tribune