Waste

Landfill Waste Disposal

Neutral from
2015 to 2016

How are we doing?

Landfill waste disposal received a neutral rating because San Diego County daily waste disposal per capita remained nearly the same from 2015 to 2016, while statewide waste disposal increased. Unfortunately, San Diego continues to dispose of more waste per capita than the state average and more than other major urban California counties. Sixteen San Diego jurisdictions increased their waste disposal from 2015 to 2016 while only three decreased, including Lemon Grove, Coronado and the city of San Diego. Although Imperial Beach’s waste disposal increased from 2015 to 2016, they have the lowest total waste disposal per capita out of any city in the county. See more information.

San Diegans have increased their daily waste disposal by 0.6 pounds from 2012 to 2016 and currently throw away 5.5 pounds of trash per day per person. Daily waste disposal per capita did not change from 2015 to 2016.

Data Sources: California Department of Finance, E-4 population estimates, 2017; CalRecycle, Multi-year Countywide Origin Summary, 2017; CalRecycle, Statewide Reports, 2017

Why is it important?

  • Miramar and Otay landfills are among the county’s largest emitters of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Methane emissions can be reduced by decreasing waste and organics going into the landfills.
  • Organic waste makes up one-third of the material diverted to landfills, much of which is compostable or capable of being converted into other landscaping materials.
  • San Diegans throw away enough recyclables to fuel more than 400 cars for a year. Decreasing waste is not only good for our landfills, it also means that less energy is used to transport and dispose of waste.
  • Trying to figure out how to recycle a certain item? WasteFreeSD is a resource that offers information on diversion of household items, recyclables and household hazardous waste.

Data Sources: California Department of Finance, E-4 population estimates, 2017; CalRecycle, Single-year Countywide Origin Detail, 2017

Data Sources: California Department of Finance, E-4 population estimates, 2016; CalRecycle, Single-year Countywide Origin Detail, 2016

In 2016, San Diego County continued to dispose of more waste per capita than the state average and more than other major urban counties in California.

Data Sources: California Department of Finance, E-4 population estimates, 2017; CalRecycle, Jurisdiction Disposal and ADC Tons by Facility, 2017

Data Sources: California Department of Finance, E-4 population estimates, 2016; CalRecycle, Jurisdiction Disposal and ADC Tons by Facility, 2016

Within San Diego County, Del Mar residents disposed the most waste at 16.5 pounds per capita daily, followed by Coronado with 9.3 pounds. Imperial Beach had the least amount of daily waste per capita at 3.3 pounds, followed closely by Chula Vista at 3.7 pounds of daily waste per capita.

San Diego County Jurisdictions' Change in Daily Waste Disposal per Capita

(2015 - 2016)

> 10% decrease
5% - 10% decrease
< 5% decrease
< 5% increase
5% - 10% increase
> 10% increase
 

Three San Diego jurisdictions reduced waste disposal from 2015 to 2016, while 16 increased waste volumes. Solana Beach had the largest waste increase per capita while Lemon Grove and Coronado had the largest decreases in their waste disposal per capita.

Data Sources: California Department of Finance, E-4 population estimates, 2017; CalRecycle, Jurisdiction Disposal and ADC Tons by Facility, 2017

  Idea for Change

Studies estimate that as much as 1 million tons of organics are generated in San Diego County each year and only 2% of food material is sent to composting facilities. The San Diego Food System Alliance is fighting against food waste through the Save the Food San Diego consumer education campaign and initiatives. Businesses can reduce waste by donating food material to local food banks or pantries. Farmers and policymakers can also play a role by supporting composting initiatives and carbon farming, a process to move excess greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere into soil and vegetation. It is estimated that compost application from carbon farming on eligible rangelands, riparian restoration and croplands could deliver reductions of over 234,000 MTCO2e/year.

  Bright Spot

The city of Imperial Beach passed a ban to stop food establishments from using service ware made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is commonly, but inappropriately known as Styrofoam®. The policy is being phased in so that food establishments can use up existing inventory. EPS is not fully biodegradable and recycling is limited and requires items be cleaned of food and grease. The harmful effects of EPS to wildlife and ecosystems are proven and many other alternative food packaging materials are eco-friendly. The Surfrider Foundation is continuing to push polystyrene bans in other cities throughout San Diego County and California.

  What are we measuring?

We measure waste disposal by tracking the historical trend in average daily pounds of waste disposed per person in San Diego County and California. We also compare the latest data year of select counties’ daily waste disposal per person as well as the total and year-over-year change in San Diego County jurisdictions’ waste disposal. Learn more about the data.