April 2011 home page

  Del Mar’s Dirty Secret
Bruce Bekkar Chair and Dan Nore | Sustainability Advisory Board


Way to Go, En Fuego! Photo Dan Nore.


When it comes to Waste, our beautiful City performs poorly:

  • Our residents dispose of more waste per person than other north county coastal cities, and far more than the California average
  • Recycling is scarce for visitors in the downtown area, and until recently, non-existent at our beaches and parks
  • Businesses in town do very little recycling- for example, think of all those restaurants downtown throwing away all those bottles, cans, and packaging materials!
  • Our construction/demolition ordinances are outdated, and most of the waste ends up in landfills

These issues and more are being discussed right now by City Staff and our Council members because our waste contract is up for renewal. We need a fresh start when it comes to trash- not only a new contract that fixes these problems, but a system that insures follow-through. Our review of the current contract revealed, for instance, that there actually was a commercial recycling plan- but it was never carried out! Wasting waste, aside from not meeting state mandates, leads to more trash trucks making more trips to the landfills, fills up those landfills faster, and causes more Greenhouse Gases to be released.

We can’t count on nearby landfills to continue accepting our trash forever, nor can we expect communities to welcome new landfills into their jurisdictions. The 2005 San Diego County Integrated Waste Management Plan indicated that existing landfills would run out of capacity by 2016. The addition of Gregory Canyon, an expansion of the Sycamore Canyon, and other new landfills are required to get us beyond 2016. Gregory Canyon is predicted to open soon, but it has a strong opposition group that has been fighting the facility for 20 years. Santee has been less than enthusiastic about an additional 116 million tons trash to the northwest of their city. Shipping our trash to out-of-county locations will get expensive!

Time has come for major changes at the City level when it comes to this issue, but the buck (or, in this case, the glass/bottle/can/newspaper/plastic jug #1or 2) doesn’t stop there. In the grand tradition of civic involvement, we the people need to get involved. Here’s what you can do:

  • Support a new waste management contract with meaningful waste diversion incentives and commercial recycling
  • Make your support known to City staff and Council by sending an email or a letter
  • Encourage your neighbors to support a responsible waste management contract and
  • Take personal actions to recycle more, use a backyard composting bin, and buy products that generate less waste.

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