Organic Materials Ordinance Update

Project Contact: Tyler Farmer  |  |  619-517-5102


The County of San Diego Planning & Development Services (PDS) and Department of Public Works (DPW) are developing the Organic Materials Ordinance Update project to help divert organic materials (such as food scraps, plant materials, and agricultural materials) from landfills. The project will amend the County’s existing zoning ordinance (ZO) to allow organic material processing or composting to occur in more areas of the unincorporated county. Additionally, more permit options will be provided and will vary depending on the size and intensity of the operation. To help ensure the protection of public health and safety, the project will also include best management practice requirements to address issues of stormwater runoff, odors, pests, and others.


Organic Materials Ordinance Update Goals

The County of San Diego Board of Supervisors (Board) adopted a Strategic Plan to Reduce Waste (Strategic Plan) on April 26, 2017 (2) and the Climate Action Plan (2018 CAP) on February 14, 2018 (1). These plans were adopted to reduce the County’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, make the best use of local natural resources, and reduce the need for new landfills. Achieving the goals of reducing waste and increasing recycling provides multiple benefits to the region including maximizing available landfill space, conserving natural resources, decreasing pollution, and increasing economic opportunity. One of the strategies to support these plans was to set a waste diversion goal for the unincorporated county of 75% by 2025 in the Strategic Plan, which was subsequently increased to 80% by 2030 in the Board’s adopted 2018 CAP.

A key component of waste diversion is the recycling of organic waste, which includes green materials, agricultural materials, food materials, vegetative food materials, wood waste, manure, and others. These materials are highly recyclable and can be converted into value added products such as compost and mulch. Landfilling organic waste leads to the anaerobic breakdown of that material, which creates methane. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year horizon, making landfills a top GHG emitter in California. Methane is also short-lived in the atmosphere, which means reducing these emissions has great potential in fighting climate change.

The Organic Materials Ordinance Update project is part of a Countywide effort to meet solid waste diversion targets pursuant to the 2018 CAP and in alignment with programs and policies recommended by the Strategic Plan.

Organic Materials Ordinance Update Project Area Map

Upcoming Public Workshops

Information on future public workshops will be posted here as details are confirmed. Sign up for email updates to receive updates on the project.

Past Public Workshops

Virtual public workshops were held on the following dates to solicit feedback on the project.

Additional Updates

Drafts coming soon for public comment! Updates on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents and notices, upcoming public meetings, hearings and community engagement activities, and the draft ordinance will be posted on this webpage soon.

The Organic Materials Ordinance Update project will go to the Planning Commission (PC) and the Board of Supervisors as early as summer 2022. Check back for PC and Board hearing materials.

Subscribe to Project Updates

You can receive updates on the Organic Materials Ordinance Update project and other sustainability initiatives by signing up for email updates.