Photo of man shoveling compost. Photo of misting system at PRIMA landfill.

OC Waste & Recycling (OCWR) has received two 2023 Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for innovative initiatives including a regional community compost program for the Orange County, and a smart misting system at the Prima Deshecha Landfill (PDL) in San Juan Capistrano. Both honors acknowledge excellence in the County Resiliency category for Infrastructure, Energy and Sustainability.

"With passage of SB 1383 requiring methane emissions reductions and mandatory organic collections, OCWR was challenged to develop innovative operations and processes to meet the new state mandates,” said Tom Koutroulis, Director, OC Waste & Recycling. “Our commitment to continuous improvement is at the core of everything we do, and I am proud of our team for their dedication and successfully taking on these challenges.”

The full-circle recycling program developed by OCWR starts with curbside residential collection of green and organic waste that is turned into high-quality compost and mulch. These products are then given back to the community as a free resource to enrich gardens and landscaping.

Since commencing the community composting and mulch program in October 2020, OCWR greeneries (Bee Canyon and Capistrano) co-located at the County landfills have diverted approximately 36,000 tons of green waste and manure from valuable landfill space. In addition, OCWR has given away over 3,300 tons of compost and mulch by working with County agencies, cities, non-profit organizations, businesses and residents through an online application. The program currently averages about 70 residential pick-ups per week with the number of requests increasing week over week.

The PDL’s smart misting system was designed to aid in controlling landfill odors as part of OCWR’s comprehensive odor management program in nearby communities. An odor-control misting system in a solid waste landfill typically works by spraying a mist of specialized odor-neutralizing chemicals into the air to counteract any unpleasant smells that are associated with waste. The PDL smart misting system is also synchronized with a weather station, using sensors to monitor wind direction and magnitude to make any needed adjustments. 

“We thank NACo for its acknowledgement and for helping to increase awareness of the comprehensive and sustainable services our County provides,” continued Koutroulis. “Together we can make a difference for all our futures.”

NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.

About OC Waste & Recycling (OCWR) 

OCWR serves the County’s solid waste disposal needs through resource recovery, operating public landfills, protecting the local environment, investing in renewable energy enterprises and promoting recycling to ensure a safe and healthy community for current and future generations. The department manages one of the nation's premier solid waste disposal systems and three composting greeneries, all serving residents and businesses in the County’s 34 cities and its unincorporated areas. OCWR’s three active landfills reflect environmental engineering at its best. Learn more by visiting the OCWR website at

About National Association of Counties (NACo)

The National Association of Counties (NACo) strengthens America’s counties, including nearly 40,000 county elected officials and 3.6 million county employees. Founded in 1935, NACo unites county officials to advocate for county government priorities in federal policymaking; promote exemplary county policies and practices; nurture leadership skills and expand knowledge networks; optimize county and taxpayer resources and cost savings; and enrich the public’s understanding of county government.