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March 25, 2023

Waste diversion hits high marks at local events

Local agencies looking to divert waste from the local landfill have had tremendous results as of late at local events. 

Integrated Waste Management has led efforts – with help from others like Recology and local Boy Scouts – to improve diversion rates at recent events. At Aromas Day on Aug. 25, crews diverted 81 percent of waste tossed by thousands of local residents. At the San Juan Bautista 150th anniversary celebration, which was a bit more low key but well attended nonetheless, there was a 92 percent diversion rate. 


That means a big majority of waste was diverted into recycling and organic categories as opposed to heading straight to the John Smith Landfill. In past years, the diversion rates for events were generally much lower – as low as 12 percent, said Celina Stotler, Recycling & Green Business Coordinator for Integrated Waste Management. 

“This is really incredible, where we want to see at least 50 percent diversion at events,” Stotler said. 

A major component of the improved diversion rates lately is the most recent 10-year contract with Recology adopted late last year, she said. Stotler noted there are new requirements and better monitoring in the agreement. 

The Recology Zero Waste staff released the following statement on the efforts: 

“We realize how important it is to have the support and buy-in from the event organizer, who works closely with each vendor, to ensure they support our vision to have zero waste community events that result in less waste going to landfill.”

Stotler mentioned how CalRecycle defines Zero Waste as “a process and a philosophy that involves a redesign of products and consumption, so that all material goods can be reused or recycled — or not needed at all.”

Groups like Zero Waste International Alliance consider a 90 percent reduction of waste sent to landfills and incinerators as a “reasonable goal,” Stotler said. 

For the local events, crews placed containers at strategic locations. Stotler said scouts helped with monitoring and diverting of trash at Aromas Day. She said community leaders like Sherry Mundy were helpful, too. At the sesquicentennial, she said the San Juan staff pitched in to help reach such a high diversion rate. 

“It was great to see that change of heart,” she said of the improvements.

Below is a list of local events where there’s been waste diversion: