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About Us

smiling woman in garden holding Solana Center come talk dirt sign

Solana Center for Environmental Innovation is a San Diego-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on Zero Waste, composting, and water conservation. Our mission is to mobilize the local community through innovative outreach and provide consulting services to businesses and jurisdictions in order to address the region’s most pressing environmental issues and enact impactful change.

With expertise in multiple areas of sustainability, as well as state, regional, and national policy, Solana Center’s programming and outreach provide innovative solutions to businesses and community members in the areas of Zero Waste, composting, water conservation, and more.

Founded as Solana Recyclers in 1983, we are proud to have pioneered the first comprehensive curbside recycling program in San Diego – and one of the first such programs in the State of California. Together with our partners, we work creatively to promote the sustainable management of our natural resources and connect the community to real solutions. The San Diego region is constantly changing, and we change with it.

In January 2016, Solana Center was awarded the state’s highest environmental honor, the California Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for our food waste diversion programs.  We are pleased to be in the esteemed company of previous awardees, such as Disney Resort, Stanford University, Raytheon, and the City of Santa Cruz.

Each year Solana Center reaches tens of thousands of San Diego County residents through its environmental education and community programs.

Why Zero Waste?

Sending waste to landfills has a significant impact on the environment. In San Diego, our waste requires 706,000 tons of landfill capacity annually, and it releases 127,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year. However, 56% of that waste is edible or compostable, and 21% of it is recyclable. Instead of wasting away as trash, these materials could be used as valuable resources.

By 2040, the region aims to divert all waste from landfills. Solana Center intends to be part of the solution, promoting recycling, identifying sources of food waste, and supporting composting at home, school, and work.

The Importance of Soil and Composting

Composting is a key part of a strong Zero Waste strategy. It is the process by which organic waste, such as food and yard trimmings, is turned into a valuable soil amendment. Turning waste into compost reduces the emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from landfills. It’s also good for our soil. Plants grown in compost-amended soils are healthier, more disease resistant, and more drought tolerant. These benefits come without the need for chemical soil additives, like fertilizer, which can end up in our rivers and oceans and negatively affect marine ecosystems.

Water Conservation and Protection

Water scarcity is an important issue in Southern California, and it will continue to be for years to come. Despite experiencing one of the worst droughts in California’s history, we let billions of gallons of fresh water drain into the ocean, often carrying with it land-based pollution. Through our educational efforts and campaigns, we aim to teach how vital watersheds are and why they should be protected. Solana Center offers educational, outreach, and retail programs that address watershed protection, water conservation systems, and marine debris prevention.

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