Despite not collecting solid waste or managing landfills, the County influences and supports private sector waste diversion through agreements with waste haulers and the administration of state and local solid waste and land use policies, programs, and ordinances. The solid waste measure focuses on diverting waste from landfills through food donation programs, waste prevention education and outreach, and updating land use ordinances to increase organic materials processing to help the County achieve reductions of 79,052 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030. 


Strategy SW-1 – Increase Solid Waste Diversion in the Unincorporated County


Solid waste disposal accounts for 11% of unincorporated county emissions, largely from methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane is produced at landfills when organic waste decomposes in an anaerobic environment. The Otay and Borrego landfills are located in the unincorporated county. According to the County of San Diego’s Strategic Plan to Reduce Waste, 474,750 tons of solid waste was produced in 2015 in the unincorporated county. Construction and demolition waste comprised 34% and organic materials including food and animal waste comprised an additional 39%; both are streams of recoverable materials that can be diverted from the landfill.

The County’s Board of Supervisors established a 75% waste diversion target by 2025 for the unincorporated county through the implementation of the Strategic Plan to Reduce Waste. The Climate Action Plan establishes an 80% waste diversion target by 2030 within the unincorporated area. 

2019 Achievements

  • Diverted 60% of waste in the unincorporated county in 2018
  • Held the County’s first Fix-It Clinic
  • Conducted 651 presentations and inspections benefitting 2,111 businesses and residents
  • Conducted 236 presentations on waste reduction, recycling, and composting at local schools, reaching 18,825 students
  • Held 28 composting workshops with 9,930 attendees
  • Supplied 5,560 recycling bins and 187 compost bins to schools, multi-family residents, and businesses
  • Collected 953 tires at three tire recycling events
  • Offered free recycling of tires, green waste, and scrap metal at community cleanup events in Campo, Lincoln Acres, and Valley Center
  • Collected 481 oils filters at two used oil filter exchange events
  • Published a Food Donation Guide


  • Pesticide Container Recycling Program: Received Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties in 2019 (NACo Category: County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy + Sustainability)

In Progress

  • Increasing diversion of construction debris through a Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris Recycling Ordinance
  • Updating agreements between waste haulers and the Department of Public Works to increase collection and diversion of recoverable materials
  • Developing a regional tool to quantify potentially donatable food from commercial sources
  • Revising County solid waste and land use policies to allow for the collection and processing of organic materials within the unincorporated county