The Recycling Program of San Diego, California

The Recycling Program of San Diego, California


Recycling is an endeavor that the city of San Diego has actively pursued for almost 20 years. The city’s recycling program is under the general supervision of the San Diego Environmental Services Department. Housed in Ridgehaven, which is considered to be one of the United States’ most energy efficient buildings, the San Diego Environmental Services Department’s recycling program has been very successful so far. The waste diversion rate of the city has gone up to 52% as of 2004.

Basically, the San Diego Environmental Services Department’s responsibilities cover: collection services, enforcement of the city’s waste reduction regulations, management of the landfill in Miramar, coordination with various recycling centers and education of the public on San Diego’s recycling program.

Collection Services

The San Diego Environmental Services Department deploys a fleet of trucks to collect household refuse on a weekly basis and recyclable materials every other week. The fleet services households, small businesses and the litter bins found in the commercial districts of San Diego.

Waste Reduction Regulations

The city of San Diego has a number of regulations that its Environmental Services Department is enforcing. Included among these regulations are ordinances against littering, illegal dumping, scavenging, recycling contamination, leaving garbage and recycling bins out beyond collection hours, and others. To enforce these regulations, the city has officers that are assigned to patrol specific areas of the city.

The Miramar Landfill

The Miramar Landfill is the destination for most of the household refuse generated by San Diego. According to statistics, 1.4 million tons of garbage is buried there every year, but that figure is down from the 1.8 million tons being dumped at the landfill before the establishment of the San Diego Environmental Services Department in 1988.

The Miramar Recycling Center is located just within the entrance of the landfill. The recycling center accepts numerous recyclable materials, including TV monitors, computer monitors and computer electronics. Scrap metal can also be recycled there, but for a small fee.

Education of the Public

The San Diego Environmental Services Department also engages in community outreach programs that are aimed to teach the public about the city’s efforts to pursue recycling actively. These community outreach programs include the Green Action Program, which is taught at local high schools.

Recycling at Home

There are many options for householders to do their recycling at home. They can choose to do their recycling with the recycling centers under the San Diego Environmental Services Department, or with other private enterprises. Householders can also opt to donate their recyclables or to avail of paybacks.

Recyclables accepted in the blue recycling bins installed at curbsides by the city are: plastic bottles and jars; glass bottles and jars; newspapers, magazines, catalogues and telephone directories; paper and junk mail; cardboard, dry food packaging, paper bags and packaging; metal cans, foil and empty aerosol cans.

The recycling program of San Diego is considered to be one of the most successful in the United States. This recycling program is successful largely because of the active participation and cooperation of the city’s residents.


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This Article is written by John C Arkin.


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