California state law (SB 1383) takes effect January 1, 2022, requiring the majority of homes and businesses in the area to recycle all food and yard waste in their yard debris carts. In response to the increased demands of processing the compostable materials, Republic Services spent the past three years building the Otay Compost Facility and hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier in October.
The facility is the first in the state to be powered entirely by solar energy. It promises to churn 100 tons of yard and food waste from Chula Vista and nearby San Diego communities into nutrient-rich compost. Republic Services claims production is expected to double output to 200 tons daily by the end of the year.
From household to compost, the infrastructure of the entire process will require a shift in mindset. However, the efforts aim to offer significant benefits to the environment. As any gardener knows, there’s a distinct difference between dirt and soil, so converting organic material into an amendment that improves soil quality is essential for farmers, backyard gardeners and urban planning divisions.
To accomplish the circular economy, residents and businesses will place organic foods into their yard waste bin instead of the garbage, which will reduce waste disposal costs and slow the progression of landfill heaps. Some experts estimate as much as 40% of landfill mass is made up of food waste. Instead of taking up space and contributing to methane gas emissions from landfills, the food debris is trucked to the processing plant where the zero-energy method turn it into compost. It is then returned to the neighborhoods and public spaces in the same community the materials came from.
The process is nothing new to Republic Services. According to the company, “which was recognized as the industry’s 2020 Organics Recycler of the Year, operates 12 compost facilities in five states, and recycled more than 2.15 billion pounds of food and yard waste last year.”
Images via Republic Services