Waste

Landfill Waste Disposal

Worsened more than 1 percent from
2014 to 2015

How are we doing?

Landfill waste disposal received a thumbs-down because countywide San Diegans increased their per capita waste disposal by 0.2 pounds per day from 2014 to 2015. That’s an additional 328 million pounds of trash added to our landfills per year. San Diego continues to dispose of more waste per capita than the state average and more than other major urban counties. San Diego County and California have continued an upward trend of daily waste disposal per capita since 2012. See more information.

San Diegans have increased their daily waste disposal by 0.6 pounds from 2012 to 2015 and currently throw away 5.5 pounds of trash per day per person.

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?

  • Decreasing waste is not only good for our landfills it also means that less energy is used to transport and dispose of waste.
  • San Diegans throw away enough recyclables to fuel over 400 cars for a year.
  • Organic waste makes up one-third of the material diverted to landfills, much of which is compostable or able to be converted into other landscaping materials. Wasted food means wasted energy.

In 2015, 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, Single-year Countywide Origin Detail, 2017

Within San Diego, Del Mar residents disposed the most at 14.3 pounds per capita, followed by Coronado with 10.7 pounds of daily waste per capita. Imperial Beach had the least amount of daily waste per capita at 3.3 pounds, followed closely by Chula Vista at 3.6 pounds of daily waste per capita.

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

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

(2014 - 2015)

Six San Diego jurisdictions reduced their waste disposal from 2014 to 2015, while 13 increased. Lemon Grove had the largest waste increase per capita while Solana Beach and Chula Vista 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

Cities in the San Diego region should implement composting by providing residential and commercial compost bins and pickup as part of their landfill diversion goals. Such action would greatly reduce methane-generating organics going to landfills. In addition, San Diegans should only buy as much food as needed and eat leftovers rather than throw them away to reduce waste. Buying food at local farmer’s markets also reduces the amount of energy it takes to transport food to neighborhood stores.

  Bright Spot

In 2016, California banned single-use plastic bags to reduce waste and litter. Now many jurisdictions are looking to ban use of polystyrene foam food containers. Polystyrene is nonbiodegradable and difficult and costly to recycle, especially when soiled with food. Equinox Project released a report providing recommendations and a roadmap for cities and counties working to ban or reduce polystyrene waste and pollution. Learn more.

  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.