Why is This Important?
Solid waste generated by households and businesses that is not otherwise diverted, is disposed of in landfills. Landfilled waste is composed of a variety of natural and manmade materials, including wood and green waste, plastic, paper, and cardboard, and food waste. Some of the material contains nonrenewable resources like petroleum products and metals, while renewable materials may be consumed and disposed of at a rate that outpaces nature’s ability to replenish them. Reducing the amount of waste generated in absolute terms is a critical component of balancing resource consumption with resource supply.
What is a Sustainable State?
A sustainable state is one where consumption of renewable resources is in balance with nature’s ability to replenish them and total waste generation declines over time.
How Are We Doing?
· In 2009, San Mateo County disposed of 586,003 tons of solid waste in State-permitted landfills, a decline of 10.6 percent from 2008. Total solid waste disposal from San Mateo County businesses and residences has decreased in all but one year in the past nine. Overall, solid waste disposal is down 36 percent since 2000.
· Starting in 2007, the state of California began using “pounds disposed per day per resident” as the primary metric for measuring the progress of a community toward overall waste reduction goals. Per capita disposal is calculated based on the jurisdiction population (residents), or in some cases jurisdiction industry employment (employees).
· County residents have made significant reductions in per capita disposal. In 2000, San Mateo County residents disposed of 7.1 pounds per day per resident, about 12 percent more than the statewide average of 6.3 pounds per day per resident. By 2009, the rate in San Mateo County had dropped to 4.3 pounds per day per resident, 4 percent less than the statewide average of 4.5 pounds per day per resident.
· According to state estimates, in 2008, 25 percent of residential waste by weight is food waste and another 6 percent is organic matter such as leaves and grass clippings. Both waste streams can be readily composted.
· At a municipal level, Portola Valley has the lowest waste disposed per capita in the county, at 2.2 pounds per capita per day. East Palo Alto, Pacifica, and Daly City all have disposal rates below 3 pounds per day per capita. Colma has the highest waste disposed per capita, a fact mostly related to the high level of retail stores and other business in the city relative to population.
· Decaying organic material in landfills is a significant source of methane—a potent greenhouse gas. In 2007, landfills generated about 180,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions in the county.