Solana Center to unveil state’s first mid-scale composting training site

REGION — After more than a year of planning and execution, the Solana Center for Environmental Sustainability is set to unveil its mid-scale composting demonstration and training site — the first of its kind in the state.

The site, which is located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, comes at a critical time when a new state law requires businesses to recycle their organic waste — lawn clippings, food waste and other similar waste — rather than sending it to landfills.

“Residential and large commercial composting is most common, while mid-scale composting is sometimes forgotten. However, the importance of mid-scale composting is growing because of new state laws and companies’ increased desire to preserve the environment,” Solana Center Executive Director Jessica Toth said.

The Solutions for Organic Waste Diversion presentation series is from noon to 5:30 p.m. April 9 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Infield Farm, the site of Solana Center’s Eco Learning Lab, which debuted at the fair in 2016.

“This presentation series will teach local solutions for diverting waste that would otherwise contribute to landfill greenhouse gas emissions. I’m proud to say we’re once again on the forefront of an environmental trend,” Toth said.

Assembly Bill 1826, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed in September 2014, started taking effect in April. It requires businesses to divert organic waste, including food scraps and yard trimmings, from landfills. As of Jan. 1, businesses generating more than 4 cubic yards of organic waste per week are subject to the diversion requirement.

Toth said previously that mid-sized businesses have been increasingly interested in composting after CalRecycle published new composting regulation that loosens certain restrictions on mid-size composting efforts.

That also led to a need for proper training of operators of such composting sites, Toth added.

Without proper training, compost operations run the risks of polluting waterways through the stormwater system, creating vector and odor problems, and propagating harmful pathogens, which could find their way into edible gardens.

“It’s great to see the interest in composting, but we want to make sure that we’re teaching operators best practices so they can avoid some of the problems associated with mid-scale composting without proper training and best practices,” Toth said in a previous statement. “We are really excited about the grant and the opportunity it allows us to pursue.”

Workshop experts will discuss three composting methods, including Bokashi fermentation, that are effective for managing organic material generated by restaurants, cafeterias, schools, farms and multi-family units.

Visit solanacenter.org for additional details about the Eco Learning Lab and upcoming April 9 event.

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