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San Diego

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Commercial Food Waste Recycling

Photo of Food Waste Truck

Food waste generated at pre-approved commercial venues is accepted at the Miramar Greenery for a discounted tipping fee. Food scraps are processed into rich compost product that can be used as an amendment to improve soil texture, and increase both nutrients and water holding capacity.

Generators must be located in the City of San Diego and must be in full compliance with the City's Recycling Ordinance, including recycling of all mandated materials, providing convenient recycling to guests and staff by pairing well marked recycling and trash containers, and providing written information to staff and guests. More information on the City's Recycling Ordinance .

Loads of food waste must be transported by a licensed hauler in a tightly sealed container and delivered to the Miramar Greenery in an end-dump truck system.

Photo of food waste into rich compostPhoto of food waste into rich compost

Food waste processed into rich compost

The City's commercial food waste recycling program system requires the following steps:

  1. City staff meets with facility administrator, kitchen manager and/or maintenance supervisor
  2. City staff provides technical assistance for on-site and logistics implementation
  3. City staff trains all kitchen, maintenance and administration staff
  4. Facility starts a "Pilot Program Phase" where facility's representative is required to accompany City staff to inspect and evaluate the first three loads at the Miramar Greenery
  5. Once successfully completing the Pilot Program Phase, the facility becomes a regular participant of the program

Please review PDF icon program implementation guidelines for commercial food waste generators.

View the current participants who have successfully completed the Pilot Program Phase, and videos of some participants.

Before throwing away food, commercial venues are encouraged to look at other options to divert excess food, such as source reduction and donation to human and animal shelters. For more information, please check the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) PDF icon San Diego Area Food Recovery Links and Resources. Also, please check the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge website.

Thanks to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act passed by Congress in 1996, food donors such as manufacturers, growers and packers, restaurants, corporate cafeterias, and caterers can participate in the fight against hunger by donating non-perishable and prepared foods without the risk of being prosecuted for liability. For more information on food donation check the EPA's "Feed Families, Not Landfills" webpage.

The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 170 "Allowable Deduction for Charitable Donations to ordinary Income Property" encourage donations by allowing C corporations to earn an enhanced tax deduction for donating selected surplus property, including food.

Several organizations in San Diego will accept certain type of food waste. Here's a list of some PDF icon organizations for food donation in San Diego. Please contact the organizations directly for more information on their specific requirements.

To determine the feasibility of starting a commercial food waste recycling program, call the Environmental Services Department at 858-694-7000.


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