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First Urban Composting Center

Posted on February 01, 2013

First Urban Composting Center

Tijuana celebrates the opening of its first Urban Composting Center. The new center will produce 150 tons of compost in its first 12 months for urban landscaping and nurseries throughout Tijuana. EPA provides $93,000 in funding under the US-Mexico Border 2020 Program (formerly Border 2012).

On Wednesday, January 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the Municipality of Tijuana celebrated the opening of the first Urban Composting Center in Tijuana.This is the first center of its kind on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border region. The center will produce about 150 tons of compost over the next 12 months, which will be used to plant trees and supply nurseries throughout Tijuana.

The center was funded through a $73,000 Border grant to Tijuana Calidad de Vida, A.C., a non-governmental organization that created a partnership with the City of Tijuana to develop landscape grade compost using municipal landscape cuttings. 

An additional $20,000 grant under the new Border 2020 Program was symbolically awarded during the event and will be used to strengthen the institutional capacity of the municipality and raise community awareness on the benefits of composting as a path to develop zero-waste programs, using less materials, reducing toxins, and reclaiming used materials to create a more sustainable community. 

“We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of this center, a model for communities throughout Baja California, which will incorporate composting into their everyday practices,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The composting center will help protect the environment on both sides of the border by reducing waste in our shared San Diego/Tijuana watershed that otherwise would have gone to landfills,” said the EPA official. 

The Urban Composting Center will be used to build municipal expertise on composting practices and will be an educational venue to increase public awareness about the use of compost as a practice to divert reusable organic material from landfills.

“For the BECC, the inauguration of the first Composting Center in Tijuana, Baja California is very important. This is a demonstrative project that will be used to maintain local parks and gardens with sustainable practices based on the use of reclaimed organic materials. It will also serve as an educational center to create public awareness regarding the benefits of composting, and it is funded by the Border 2020 Environment Program", said Maria Elena Giner, General Manager of the BECC.

The BECC official added that “it is hard to obtain resources for this type of projects.” In her opinion, there are three key philanthropy ingredients: wealth, wisdom, and work (the three w’s of Philanthropy). “This particular project has them all,” she said. “The wealth was contributed by EPA and the city provided the land. The wisdom came from the City of San Diego that provided the expertise and technology. The third ingredient, which is work, and was provided by Tijuana Calidad de Vida, the city of Tijuana as well as all of those present here  to inaugurate the event. This is a good example of how local residents can contribute their part.”     

On behalf of Mayor Carlos Bustamante Anchondo, the Chairman of the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee, Councilman Mariano San Roman Flores, said that this composting center aims to promote a culture of recycling in the city and it will be working in conjunction with the organization Tijuana Calidad de Vida.

“The determination of Mayor Carlos Bustamante made it possible to obtain this land as a donation, as well as various grants that have contributed to make this project a reality today. The municipal government and Tijuana Calidad de Vida, share the responsibility of managing this center to improve the environmental conditions of the region,” said San Roman Flores.

The councilman added: “I was surprised to find out about the more than $1.2 billion dollars that have been obtained for Baja California in the last 15 years and hopefully many more resources will be obtained for other associations. Thanks to these BECC and EPA programs that are contributing to achieve a sustainable life for the community.”

Carmen Romo, Composting Center Director and Tijuana Calidad de Vida, A.C. co-founder, said that “the issue of waste is now providing a more livable environment. We thank the United States Environmental Protection Agency for its financial and technical contribution, the Border Environment Cooperation Commission for all the assistance they have given us, and the City for giving us the opportunity of collaborating to address this issue.”

Ms. Romo said “we are aiming for a network of compost centers, so that the City of Tijuana can take advantage of the 40% of organic waste that we are sending to the landfill. We are committing to deliver 150 tons of compost to be used for municipal green areas. We know that Tijuana has a deficit of green areas and we believe that the project could contribute to improve the city’s deficit in green landscape. We aim to create a zero-waste mindset.”

Some of the grant money will go towards the development of a compost practice manual for distribution throughout the border region, a website with composting information resources, and workshops for city employees, the community, and institutions interested in learning about compost practices.

Many of the educational tools and resources were developed in collaboration with the City of San Diego through the shared U.S.-Mexico Border Partnership. The Miramar Greenery composting facility in San Diego shared its composting expertise with Tijuana Calidad de Vida and City of Tijuana employees. 

To date, the Urban Composting Center has trained 170 people from various institutions on how compost can prevent food, gardening, and other organic waste from ending up in dumpsites and landfills.




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