Otay Mesa Compost Facility Unveiled Ahead of New Food Waste Recycling Law

The Otay Mesa Compost Facility is the first in the state to run entirely on solar power

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Doing the dishes and taking out the trash are going to change forever for many San Diegans on Jan. 1, 2022. That’s when California State Bill 1383 finally starts stretching its legs as law.

That law will require a majority of California homes and businesses to recycle food waste with yard waste.

On Wednesday, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas joined other local leaders and Republic Services officials at the Otay Landfill to cut the ribbon on the new Otay Compost Facility. It’s the first in the state to run entirely on solar power. It will take recycled yard and food waste from Chula Vista and nearby San Diego communities and turn it into rich, valuable compost.

“Instead of putting it in the trash, we’re going to be recycling it,” smiled Cara Morgan of CalRecycle. “If we continue to put materials like [food] into the landfill, that methane is going into our environment. That is a huge contributor to climate change.”

“The EPA estimates that approximately 40% of what goes into the landfills throughout the country is organics, which includes food waste and green waste,” added Chris Seney of Republic Services. “Composting is extremely important.”

Seney understood it will take time for people to adjust to putting food in the “green bin” along with grass clippings and branches.

“This is very popular in parts of this country and in Europe. They put that in the freezer so that there’s no odor whatsoever,” he explained when asked about ants or rats getting into the old food. “The key is having a weekly collection of these organics, especially now that we’re introducing food waste.”

Where the compost goes next depends on the facility. Republic Services plans to sell compost made in Otay Mesa back to farms and nurseries.

It’s just the latest step to keep landfills from getting bigger.

“Each of us in California, we can actually do something now,” concluded Morgan.

SB 1383 was passed in 2016. Seney said it took more than three years to get the Otay Compost Facility ready for Jan. 1, 2022. He said it will take yard and food waste roughly eight weeks to go through the facility to become compost.

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