Diminishing Landfill Capacity

According to a 2018/2019 grand jury report, San Mateo County and all of its cities face significant challenges in managing their solid waste. Part of this challenge stems from:

  1. A decline in international markets for recyclables collected by curbside programs.
  2. The fact that 71% of all waste that is landfilled in San Mateo County is organic material such as food scraps, paper and yard trimmings.

There is a dwindling capacity at the only active landfill in the County, Ox Mountain near Half Moon Bay. From 2012 to 2018, the annual waste disposal at Ox Mountain, a privately-owned facility by Republic Services, increased by 20%. At the current rate, the landfill will reach capacity in 15 years, or by 2034. 

Looking at Long Term Impacts

After Ox Mountain reaches full capacity, there is a possibility that San Mateo County will need to start exporting solid waste to landfills in other counties. 

This means loading up long-haul transfer vehicles with solid waste to landfills further away, increasing environmental impacts due to truck traffic and air pollution. This would also mean increased costs due to longer drive time, vehicle operational expenses and higher entry fees. These additional costs have a high probability of being felt by residents.

In May 2019, RethinkWaste’s Board of Directors approved a 10 year contract with Republic Services for disposal services at Ox Mountain. 

Steps to a Greener Future

The 15 year lifespan of the Ox Mountain landfill is estimated based on the current rate of waste disposal. However, it’s also a number that can be extended if enough San Mateo County residents change their day-to-day behavior. Proper usage of the green compost carts can have a big impact on the amount of organic waste diverted from the landfill. 

Here are some steps on how you can help create a greener future: 

  1. Understand what items go in which cart. You can do this by (a) testing your knowledge with the interactive cart game, (b) visit WhatBin.com to ask about items you may have a question about and (c) ask our expert with your questions. By understanding which items go into each cart, you help reduce the items that don’t belong, or “contaminate,” those carts.
  2. Reduce food waste. According to Stop Food Waste, 43% of food waste in the United States comes from households. While not all food waste is preventable, understanding the steps that can be done to reduce food waste not only helps the environment, it can help reduce the amount of money spent on food too! To get more helpful tips for preventing food waste, visit stopfoodwaste.org.
  3. Compost: Every meal, every day. Make composting a part of your daily routine and take the compost challenge by pledging to compost every meal, every day for the next 30 days.
  4. Share your compost story. Inspire friends, family, and the community by sharing your story and the reasons that matter most to you! Click here to share your story.

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