DEL MAR — San Diego County Fair officials and 2010 food vendors teamed up to make a hefty donation of leftover food to a local food bank after the fair closed on July 5.
The North County Food Bank and the Community Resource Center were the recipients of a total of 1,300 pounds of unused food products after the end of the fair. That donation along with the food for compost collection efforts of vendors and the “Zero Waste Zone,” post-consumer food waste collections during the fair totaled 30.21 tons of food and compostable waste. These efforts bring the fairgrounds closer to the goal of zero waste.
“During the 2010 fair, food scraps were collected from the ‘Zero Waste Zone’ at the SDG&E Showcase stage area in front of Bing Crosby Hall,” Resource Conservation Specialist for the 22nd District Agricultural Association Nancy Strauss said. Signs were posted telling about the food compost pilot project with the city of San Diego Environmental Services Department and the Miramar Greenery. Guests had three ways to dispose of their trash: recycling beverage containers; green food compost bins for food and paper discards; and a trashcan for plastics and other trash not recyclable or compostable.
“Since food is biodegradable and compostable, there are a few other ways the fair handles food waste,” Strauss said. “Food vendors use a green, food compost bin for their food scraps. These are collected on a daily basis by our recycling staff and loaded into a 20-yard roll-off box to be taken to Miramar Greenery for composting.” Also added to this mix were compostable cups made of corn collected in the beer gardens of the fair.
A small amount of fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps from the grandstand kitchens goes to a vermicomposting unit at the farm on site. Worms eat fruit and vegetable discards. They also eat horse manure and newspaper. Worm castings are used as organic fertilizer with excellent benefits for all kinds of plants and they are used on the fairgrounds throughout the year.
During the San Diego County Fair, the fairgrounds participated in the local alternative daily cover program and recycled, sent for re-use or composted about 1,191 tons of material representing 70 percent of the fairtime solid waste stream.
In 2007, the 22nd DAA board of directors adopted an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing and Practices Policy that focuses on recycled content purchases and supports the goal of “Zero Waste.” The fairgrounds has received more than 22 awards for its Recycling Program and Conservation efforts, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Management Award presented at a ceremony in San Francisco in 2008.