Zero Waste San Diego

Cause Area

  • Community
  • Environment


3891 Kendall StSan Diego, CA 92109 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement

Zero Waste San Diego's mission is to create, promote and implement programs and policies that maximize management and conservation of resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.


What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is a philosophy and a design principle for the 21st Century. It is gaining popularity regionally and worldwide as a logical approach to long-term resource management (replacing the outmoded concept of solid waste management). It includes recycling but goes beyond recycling by taking a whole system approach to the vast flow of resources and waste through our society. Zero Waste maximizes recycling, minimizes waste, reduces consumption and ensures that products are made to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace. Benefits include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, preservation of natural resources, job creation and a sustainable economy, healthier working environments, and cleaner land, air and water.

What is the status of regional zero waste efforts?

Zero Waste San Diego is a grassroots organization that is gaining momentum and effecting change. We are starting on a community level but realize that a regional approach is necessary as well. The Ocean Beach Town Council, Ocean Beach Planning Board, and the City of El Cajon have all recently passed Zero Waste resolutions and join the Cities of Oakland, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, and counties of San Francisco, Marin, Del Norte, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz as California jurisdictions with Zero Waste Goals.

Zero Waste San Diego Campaign

1. No Organic Materials to the landfill

Over half of landfilled materials are organic (food trimmings, dirty paper, leaves, etc.) Methane is produced in landfills when these materials decompose. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is 24 times more potent than CO2. Organic materials are better returned to San Diego's farms to grow food, following nature's example.

2. Resource Recovery Parks- No new Landfills

Landfills are outmoded methods of managing waste. The new paradigm is resource management. Landfill sites should change their primary focus to recycling instead of burying resources. Resource Recovery Parks will allow a practical, lower cost resource management option by collocating a traditional recycling center, a composting facility, a reusable items store, a construction and demolition recycling center, and a center for recycling hazardous household materials. At the very end of the park is the landfill, which will be the most expensive option, only necessary until waste is eliminated from the paradigm.

3. Reduce the Amount of Single Use Plastic Packaging in the City

Encourage the Businesses and Consumers to think before they buy. Make sure they choose reusable, recyclable and/or compostable packaging. Plastic bags and containers do not biodegrade and are clogging our storm drains and littering our ocean. Avoid purchasing material with plastic packaging.

4. Zero Waste Goal for City of San Diego

Encourage San Diego City Council and Mayor to adopt a zero waste resolution and draft a strategic plan to achieve 75% diversion from landfill by 2010 and zero waste by 2020.

Get Involved!

Zero Waste San Diego is a non-profit volunteer group that is working to encourage all nineteen jurisdictions in San Diego County to adopt zero waste goals. You can help by writing letters to our elected officials (visit for a template and contact addresses), joining our listserv, or volunteering to help get the word out and put Zero Waste programs in action. One person can make a difference, and as a region, we can work to create a sustainable San Diego to be proud of. To learn more, contact us at


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