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Aiming to extend the life of the Miramar Landfill, the San Diego City Council is scheduled tomorrow to discuss a measure that would increase the financial incentives for recycling construction debris.

With the city-owned landfill slated to close as early as 2012, the council will consider whether to trigger a 2005 ordinance aimed at increasing the amount of construction debris — pipes, drywall, concrete — that gets recycled.

The 2005 ordinance required homebuilders and others to recycle the debris. But the requirement was contingent on a debris-recycling facility opening inside city limits.

While the 2005 measure also required a city-owned debris facility to open, one was never built. EDCO, a local waste hauler, has since opened a private facility in Lemon Grove. But it has been underutilized. While it can handle 1,000 tons of construction debris daily, haulers are only dumping about 100 tons.

Here’s one reason why: It costs $19 more to recycle a ton of construction debris than to simply dump it at the city-owned Miramar Landfill.

The council could change that tomorrow.

Doing so would help extend the life of the landfill. The city estimates that 400,000 tons of recyclable construction debris are dumped there annually, representing nearly a quarter of the landfill’s yearly intake.

The council will consider a host of fee increases to offset revenue lost when the waste is taken elsewhere — and to ensure that it is cheaper to recycle. Among the increases:

  • A $70 charge to replace city trash bins. City residents currently receive free replacement bins.
  • An increase in the charge for dumping a ton of construction debris at the landfill. The cheapest rate is proposed at $73 — $8 more than recycling it.
  • Deposits starting at $200, required when construction permits are issued for new projects or remodeling. The deposit would be refunded at the project’s conclusion, if receipts were provided showing that debris was recycled.
  • An increase in the charge for self-haul loads dumped at the landfill.

The Mayor’s Office had previously sought to wait until late 2008 before the deposit requirement took hold. As it stands now, it would be enforced starting July 1 or 45 days after a construction debris recycling facility is certified by the city. Fee increases at the Miramar Landfill go into effect Jan. 1.

Despite the increases, the city acknowledges that the extra revenue would be a short-term fix. New revenue sources would have to be approved in the future to pay for the foregone income.

(Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly stated that the deposit requirement would take hold Jan. 1. We regret the error.)

ROB DAVIS

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