Board of Supervisors considers plan to reduce landfill waste

SAN DIEGO — The Board of Supervisors is scheduled Wednesday to consider a plan to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills from San Diego County’s unincorporated areas by 75 percent by 2025.

The supervisors will be presented with two other options — to continue existing programs and implement state mandates or to achieve diversion of 75 percent of waste by 2020.

Each choice brings different costs and budget requirements, according to a staff report.

Current programs led to the diversion of 62 percent of waste in 2015. Staff said getting up to 75 percent will necessitate a “significant, well- planned, and well-funded effort.”

A major step that could be taken by the county, according to staff, would be to cut down on construction and demolition material from building projects, which account for 34 percent of waste.

Permittees for projects of 40,000 square feet or more are currently required to place a deposit with the county, and if they can demonstrate that their debris has been recycled, the money is returned in full. Staff recommended that the square footage threshold be lowered to 5,000.

The supervisors directed staff two years ago to develop the plan, which included a secondary goal of virtually eliminating waste going into landfills by 2040. Staff is expected to recommend waiting until the 75 percent goal is achieved before the county turns to the even more ambitious target, so they can evaluate changes in waste generation and management between now and then.

The county doesn’t collect trash itself, unlike the city of San Diego. Instead, the county government contracts with private haulers.

If the third option is adopted by the supervisors, a franchise fee of $2.35 per ton of solid waste paid by the haulers would rise to $6.96 per ton that encompasses nearly all waste — with the exception of dirt, rock, sand and similar materials. The fee hasn’t changed in 20 years.