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San Diego County cities prepare for California organic recycling law to take effect

New requirements begin Jan. 1, 2022
Posted at 6:01 AM, Dec 30, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Starting in 2022, a new law goes into effect across California that will change what everyone tosses into the garbage.

SB 1383, passed in 2016, requires any person or business that creates garbage to recycle all their organic food waste.

The new law says organic waste must be collected every week and taken to a facility to compost it into reusable products.

But not every city in San Diego County is ready to comply with the new rules.

In San Diego, supply chain shortages created by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to delays for shipments of 240,000 green recycling bins, 285,000 kitchen collection caddies, and 43 new trucks. That means the city won't be able to provide recycling services to many of the residential customers it serves by the Jan. 1 deadline.

"Everybody's going full steam," says Ken Prue, the city's Deputy Director of Environmental Services. "We're also working closely with CalRecycle to help them understand exactly where we're at in the process."

RELATED: New California law requires organic recycling starting Jan. 1, 2022

The law has some leeway, with a 2024 deadline for everything to be up and running. Prue says the city will roll out the new cans and services as soon as shipments become available. In the meantime, he says people who want to start organic recycling on their own can work through the city's compost bin voucher program to get a system set up at their homes.

Prue also says people should not mix organic recycling with their yard waste in existing green containers because the City of San Diego is not ready to handle the combined items in their composting facility.

ABC 10News reached out to some of the other largest cities in the county to check on their status.

CHULA VISTA

A city spokesperson told ABC 10News Chula Vista is ready to begin its food waste recycling program in early 2022. Residential customers will put their food waste in existing yard waste carts/bins, along with other soiled paper products like paper plates, napkins, or pizza boxes. All of it will be converted to compost at the city's new facility at the Otay Landfill. Residents who don't have a green yard waste cart will receive one from Republic Services, the city's waste collection company, shortly.

Commercial and multi-family properties will have a phased-in approach for their organic waste recycling, working with the city and Republic Services to determine specifics.

OCEANSIDE

According to the Oceanside Water Utilities Department, the city began its SB 1383 compliance in 2020 with a Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Program. Department Manager Rosemarie Chora says 60% of all commercial businesses have begun food scraps recycling. The rest will start by January 1.

Multi-family units will also begin their food scraps recycling in 2022 through an agreement between the city and waste management.

However, Chora told ABC 10News that "Food waste collection services are not expected for residential customers until the next Franchise Agreement, which begins on January 1, 2024."

Until then, residential customers can get information through the Green Oceanside Kitchen program.

ESCONDIDO

Escondido opened a new, state-of-the-art anaerobic digester facility in February 2021. That allowed Escondido residents to start recycling food scraps in their existing green yard-waste bins nearly a year ago.

In a statement, Lori Calvert from the City of Escondido Recycling Division said City staff will "contact multi-family and commercial customers directly to explore options and enroll in organic waste service." Calvert also said the city sent thousands of mailers to residents and businesses explaining the new requirements.

EL CAJON

A new garbage/waste contract with EDCO began on January 1, 2021. The new agreement bundled organic recycling with existing garbage and recycling services for homes and businesses. According to the city, "Every residential customer received detailed organics program parameters and was offered free kitchen caddies to help collect and empty food scraps in their green carts."

Most cities told ABC 10News their plan for enforcement centers on education and information early on. But fines could be possible starting in 2024 for people and businesses who don't comply.

"At the end of the day, we just want recycling to happen," says Prue. "Hopefully, people will give it a try, have a good experience, and then start doing it."