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Oceanside’s Organics Recycling and Sustainability Programs

Oceanside CA— The City of Oceanside has remained a leader in organics processing and management despite the restrictions and economic uncertainty over the past year. From constructing a food recovery hub at the Green Oceanside Kitchen that opened in late 2019, to launching the first Commercial Food Scraps Program in San Diego County for all Oceanside businesses, to offering at-home food waste prevention tools and backyard compost bins, the City is hard at work in keeping organics out of landfills and promoting long-term sustainability in our community.

Opened in late 2019, the City’s Green Oceanside Kitchen (GOK) was created to ensure food waste prevention and edible food recovery to feed the food insecure. This state-of the-art food recovery and preservation facility’s mission is “to foster a sustainable food system and offer culinary learning opportunities dedicated to wasting nothing and feeding our community, that incorporates sustainability in every way the community enjoys food, from production to consumption and recycling.” Having the kitchen set up and in operation with its non-profit operator, O’side Kitchen Collaborative (OKC), was critical in rapid response to feeding those most vulnerable at the onset of COVID-19. Due to the facility’s unique structure, design and operations, the Green Oceanside Kitchen was able to store over 430,000 lbs. of perishable food, with OKC processing that food into over 310,000 meals throughout 2020. Not only was this a phenomenal effort to feed the hungry, but it also resulted in sending less to the landfills, and ultimately reduced over 2,400 tons of greenhouse gas emissions generated from food waste.

To meet current and upcoming state mandates, especially SB 1383, the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Act, the City of Oceanside amended its current Franchise Agreement with Waste Management (WM) to provide commercial food scraps services in 2019, with services becoming available in 2020. These services were negotiated to ensure competitive rates that incentivize recycling at 50% of the landfill rate and organics recycling costing 75% of landfill rates, and includes a robust technical assistance program to ensure food scraps recycling success. Although services were delayed due to COVID-19, the City and WM launched services with Oceanside’s Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Program in August of 2020, and have provided services to over 1,000 businesses, with 70% of businesses realizing monthly cost savings, totaling over $23,000 each month.  Additionally, the City remains the regional leader with a 67% landfill diversion rate, over 2,600 cubic yards of organics collected, and over 1,500 cubic yards of food scraps processed into renewable energy. That’s equivalent to 711 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions avoided and taking 1,896 cars off the road each month, and counting. Residential food scraps services are anticipated to become available in the next two years with the upcoming Franchise Agreement.

In addition to the Green Oceanside Kitchen and Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Program, the City continuously engages with the public through workshops for residents and businesses, and through the Backyard Compost Program. Over 400 registrants participated in workshops virtually and in person, with 330 households signing up for backyard composting supplies. Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, compost bins were shipped directly to residents’ homes, with digital how-to guides and training videos to help jump start composting.  Colleen Foster, the City of Oceanside’s Environmental Officer further commented, “Never before in the City’s programming history, have so many families engaged in City workshops, as well as our backyard compost program, further demonstrating that despite the challenges over the past year, people want and can do better for the planet and the community.”

For more ways to learn about the City of Oceanside’s progress on organics and climate action efforts, visit www.greenoceanside.org.

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