REGIONAL — The city of Oceanside was one of 29 presenters to speak at the San Diego Zero Waste Symposium on Feb. 4.
The daylong event invited cities, nonprofits, consultation groups and businesses to share their efforts in reducing and diverting waste.
Jennifer Tabanico of Action Research, which is based in Oceanside, was one of the speakers.
She said it was beneficial to learn what different groups are doing to reduce waste.
“They’re all dealing with the same issue from different directions,” Tabanico said.
Action Research promotes behaviors that lead to clean, healthy, sustainable communities.
“We’re a team of social scientists that create a campaign for individual motivation and removing barriers,” Tabanico said.
Tabanico said Action Research goes beyond a composting bin to pinpoint what prevents people from using a composting bin and caring more about the environment.
She said she has noticed that cities nationwide use a multi-prong approach to divert waste ranging from waste management, to beach cleanups, and plastic bag reduction.
She added that if people are not motivated and engaged to divert waste, reduction methods would not prove successful.
California cities were mandated to divert 50 percent of their waste by 2000 and 75 percent by 2020.
Oceanside is well on its way to achieving the 2020 goal and has its sights set on diverting waste by 90 percent.
Key components in diverting waste are recycling and household and business education.
Oceanside has single-stream recycling containers for trash customers, a city composting facility, regular beach cleanups and ongoing education programs.
John Davis, administrator of the Mojave Desert and Mountain Recycling Authority, also spoke at the symposium.
The recycling authority serves eight cities and the county of San Bernardino.
Davis said during the recent recession trash generation in San Bernardino County dropped and continues to stay low.
“We aren’t as wasteful,” Davis said. “We’re holding onto things longer.”
He said food continues to be the No. 1 single largest material that goes into landfills and creates harmful methane gas.
Davis said wasted food that is purchased and uneaten causes a negative economic, social and environmental impact.
His recommendation is that people buy food fresh in the amount they need to avoid excess waste.
Davis said the benefit of diverting waste regionally is that cities can share facilities and programs.
“A composting facility is not in every community,” Davis said.
Davis added individual efforts are also paramount.
“If we all waited for another person nothing would ever happen,” Davis said. “We can each lead by example and do the right thing.”
The day also included three panel question and answer sessions between groups of speakers.
Symposium presentations will be posted at zerowastesandiego.org.