Report: County residents dumping less trash, but disposal rates remain high

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego region is dumping less trash, but new numbers obtained by 10News show our trash disposal rates remain among the highest in the state.

According to the research group Equinox Center, on average, every person now disposes of five pounds of trash every day, down from 5.33 pounds the year before. The latest released numbers are from the 2011-2012 time period.

"As the economy improved, we actually saw lower trash disposal rates per capita and that was a big surprise to us," said Trevor Callan, the board president of the Equinox Center.

One possible reason is building permits lagging behind, leading to less construction waste. Another possible factor is more recycling programs.

While the numbers are improving, San Diego County still ranks among the highest in the state, more than Orange and Los Angeles counties, which have more established recycling initiatives. Orange County's rate is 4.84 pounds per person. Los Angeles County is 4.77 pounds per person.

Chula Vista, La Mesa and Imperial Beach are tossing the least amount of trash. Disposal rates in La Mesa and Imperial Beach are less than 3 pounds per person per day.

As for the biggest trash makers – Del Mar is at more than 11 pounds per person, followed by Coronado and Carlsbad.

The Del Mar Fairgrounds and Naval Base Coronado are some factors, but the Del Mar number has been steadily dropping.

Fairgrounds spokeswoman Linda Zweig points to an aggressive, award-winning program that sorts and recycles just about everything.

"We adopted our goal of 'zero waste or darn close' and we are very close," said Zweig.

In all, some 92 percent of all solid waste is either recycled or turned into compost.

"Trash disposal is critical to the region's quality of life. It also impacts taxpayers. Building new landfills and transporting trash is very expensive," said Callan.

10News has partnered with Equinox Center to look at quality of life issues leading up to the release of its annual dashboard report next Monday.

If you want to find out how to reduce your trash load, go to EquinoxCenter.org.

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