First fully solar-powered compost facility opens in California

California state law (SB 1383) goes into effect January 1, 2022, requiring the majority of homes and businesses in the area to recycle all food and farm waste in their tanning trolleys. In response to the increased demands on the treatment of compostable materials, Republic Services has spent the past three years building the Otay Compost Facility and hosted a band-cutting ceremony earlier in October.

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The plant is the first in the state to be powered solely by solar energy. It promises to dump 100 tons of farm and food waste from Chula Vista and nearby San Diego communities into nutrient-rich compost. Republic Services claims that production is expected to double production to 200 tonnes daily by the end of the year.

Related: Clark Street Composts is an example for Chicago and beyond

Aerial photo of the composting plant

From household to compost, the infrastructure throughout the process will require a change of mindset. However, the effort aims to offer significant benefits for the environment. As any gardener knows, there is a clear difference between dirt and soil, so turning organic matter into an amendment that improves soil quality is crucial for farmers, backyard gardeners and urban planning departments.

Aerial photo of the composting plant

To achieve the circular economy, residents and businesses will place organic food in their waste bins instead of the waste, which will reduce waste disposal costs and slow down the development of landfills. Some experts estimate that as much as 40% of landfill mass consists of food waste. Instead of taking up space and contributing to methane gas emissions from landfills, leftover food is transported to the processing plant, where the zero-energy method turns it into compost. It is then returned to neighborhoods and public spaces in the same community the materials came from.

Aerial photo of the composting plant

The process is nothing new for Republic Services. According to the company, “which was recognized as the industry’s Recycling Agent of the Year in 2020, operates 12 composting facilities in five states and recycled more than 2.15 billion pounds of food and farm waste last year.”

+ Republican services

Images via Republic Services

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