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 and 86,052 in 2050. 


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.

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. State waste diversion targets call for zero-waste or 90% diversion by 2040.