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Carlos Castillo / Videojournalist

Posted on July 5, 2022 at 5:48 PM PDT

Chula Vista and Carlsbad launched their own composting efforts to meet new state requirements to keep food out of landfills. KPBS environmental reporter Erik Anderson says the transition began last Friday.

Chula Vista and Carlsbad have officially updated their composting efforts in a bid to meet new state requirements to keep food waste out of landfills.

Republic Services began collecting food waste on Friday, July 1.

The new rules were implemented in January, when the state Senate Bill 1383 went into effect.

This project is part of an effort to reduce short-term climate pollutants, such as methane, that are generated in landfills when organic material decomposes.

Although the law took effect six months ago, state officials have given municipalities one year to comply with the rules. The application will not take place until January 2023.

As cities adapt, residents adapt too.

In Chula Vista and Carlsbad, people living in single-family homes will have to put their organic household waste in kitchen carts, plastic containers with lids, which are then emptied into the green bin for collection.

“It’s going to take some time for residents to get on board and start participating, using these kitchen carts and putting leftover food in the container,” said Chris Seney, director of Organics Operations at Republic Services.

The private waste hauler operates the Otay landfill in Chula Vista, and the company has built a solar-powered composting facility that is expected to handle 200 tonnes of green and organic waste a day.

“We’re getting the green waste,” Seney said. “We are grinding the green waste down to a product of about four or five inches. We are adding water, getting it to 50% to 60% moisture, and then it goes to our composting facility.”

Each year, the private company will transform 60,000 tonnes of green waste into 40,000 tonnes of commercial mulch.

It takes about eight weeks of composting for the waste to turn into mulch.

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