Santa Cruz weekly publication Good Times questions why Santa Cruz doesn't have residential composting program yet, when up to 40 percent of landfill waste in Santa Cruz County is compostable.
Food waste can be used to create beneficial products like electricity, natural gas, and compost. Compost is a great natural fertilizer, conserves water and prevents pollution.
"It’s a resource that should be used and not wasted. We want to recycle it so that those resources aren’t buried for thousands of years." says Cary Oshins, director of education for the U.S. Composting Council, whose office is in Santa Cruz.
According to the article, the county, cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Scotts Valley, and UC Santa Cruz have been exploring the possibility of a collaborative, regional operation.
A 2009 waste study report that more than 10,000 tons of food scraps head to the Dimeo Lane landfill in a year.
Santa Cruz has spent the last six years seriously researching options. Prospects included collecting commercial food waste and processing it in the existing wastewater treatment plant digesters, and installing a SMARTFERM anaerobic digester. However, cost, regulation and permitting remains a hurdle.
The County of Santa Cruz, already at a 75 percent diversion rate, has a directive to become "zero waste". Food waste plays a key role in the County's ability to reach their zero waste goal.
"None of that is going to happen unless organics are kept out of the landfill," says Mary Arman, public works operations manager for the City of Santa Cruz, "New sources of financing available from cap and trade funds make the timing ripe," she adds.
CAW is working on two bills, focusing on building and supporting a statewide composting infrastructure:
- AB 1594 (Williams) - eliminate a loophole in state law that allows some yard trimmings and prunings that are used as landfill cover to count as being "diverted" from landfills.
- AB 1826 (Chesbro) - recycling of yard trimming and food scraps by requiring commercial generators to subscribe to composting or anaerobic digestion service for their organic waste.