New Recycling Plan, More Efficient Trash Compaction to Extend Life of Miramar Landfill to 2030

Landfill Capacity, Efficiency Increased by 45 Percent

Photo of Mayor Faulconer, Councilmember Cate, and Councilmember Lightner at Miramar Landfill

San Diego - Continuing his push for a more efficient and effective city government, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer was joined today by City Council President Sherri Lightner and Councilmember Chris Cate to announce that an improved trash compaction method and implementation of the City's Zero Waste Plan will extend the useful life of the Miramar Landfill to 2030.

Continuing his push for a more efficient and effective city government, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer was joined today by City Council President Sherri Lightner and Councilmember Chris Cate to announce that an improved trash compaction method and implementation of the City's Zero Waste Plan will extend the useful life of the Miramar Landfill to 2030.

The more efficient compaction method increases the remaining capacity of the landfill by 45 percent while the Zero Waste Plan results in less trash going into the landfill. That combination extends the life of the landfill - previously projected to reach capacity in 2022 - for an additional eight years and generates nearly $109 million in future revenue for landfill operations.

"The City of San Diego continues to innovate and improve to the benefit of our environment and taxpayers," Mayor Faulconer said. "We've increased the landfill's capacity while at the same time making sure we recycle as much of our trash as possible so it never reaches to the landfill. It's a great example of the innovative ideas our City employees come up with when asked for creative solutions."

The City recently implemented a proposal by City employees to adopt a new method of trash compaction that has increased the remaining capacity of Miramar Landfill by 3.6 million tons to 11.6 million tons.

The benefit of extending the landfill's life is that it will allow the City to avoid the costs of transporting its trash elsewhere and paying higher dumping fees at a different landfill.

"City staff has worked hard on efforts to engage the public and stakeholders on waste reduction throughout the City," Council President Lightner said. "In addition to the impressive improvements to extend the life of the landfill, the City plans to fully implement public space recycling at parks, beaches, recreation centers, and libraries among other locations, which will help toward reaching our overall reduction goals."

The City also recently adopted a Zero Waste Plan, which outlines strategies to reduce, reuse or recycle virtually all of the City's trash by 2040. The first goal is to divert 75 percent of waste for other uses by 2020. That would lead to a reduction of 332,000 tons of waste annually.

"As vice-chair for the Environment Committee and the Councilmember of the district with Miramar Landfill, I'm proud of the City's commitment to best practices in our waste management, recycling, energy conservation and other environmental programs," Councilmember Cate said.

Mario Sierra, the City's Environmental Services Director, said, "The bottom line is we are putting more trash into less space and expanding the life of the landfill, which is worth tens of millions of dollars in future revenue for the City."

The more efficient compaction method is known in the industry as the "pancake lift." It involves constructing horizontal layers of trash with each day's trash representing a layer in the stack. In the past, the City used a sloping method which compacted trash on hill slopes. The pancake method requires two compactors so the City purchased a second compactor - a CAT 826 model that weighs 45 tons - to implement the technique.

The capacity of the Miramar Landfill is calculated by "airspace utilization factor," or AUF. The pancake method increased trash compaction from 0.55 AUF to .80 AUF, a 45 percent increase.

Airspace Utilization Factor Remaining Capacity (tons) Additional Tons Added Revenue Closure Date
0.55 7,983,300n 0 $0 2022
0.80 + Zero Waste 11,612,073 3,628,773 $108,863,183 2030

CONTACT: Craig Gustafson at (619) 453-9880 or [email protected]