California

Solid Waste Management

Californians throw away 6 pounds of trash every day, equivalent to almost 2200 pounds every year, roughly the weight of a subcompact car. These individual results more than double the state’s 2020 goal of 2.7 pounds per person per day (PPD). The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) measures individual disposal in terms of PPD because it considers the both recycling rate and overall disposal (recycling and compost are not counted as trash). Why? The goal is waste reduction, and an increased recycling rate doesn’t guarantee less trash if residents consume more stuff, potentially increasing trash as well as recycled and composted content.

Unfortunately, these things are getting worse, not better. Since 2012, disposal per resident has increased from 5.3 to 6 pounds while the recycling rate has decreased from 50 percent to the current 44 percent. Although California’s recycling rate remains above the national average 34.7 percent, results are well below the state’s 2020 goal of 75 percent. 

Every single major city in California has failed to improve their reduction of waste since 2012. The following table demonstrates how these cities stack up and how much their disposal per capita has changed since 2012.

Dumping Of Refuse

Illegal dumping of materials such as large appliances, furniture, waste tires, computers, and household refuse is a problem in many California communities. Based on the experiences of many of those communities, prevention of illegal dumping before it happens in the first place and minimizing its recurrence if it does is the best strategy to combat illegal dumping.

By making legal disposal of materials convenient and illegal disposal inconvenient, the local costs of preventing illegal disposal are reduced. This page describes a variety of options for the prevention of illegal dumping.

electronic waste collection

E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.” Many types of electronic products used in the workplace and homes contain hazardous substances like lead and mercury and may not be discarded in the regular trash. This “disposal ban” can lead to instances of illegal disposal if appropriate low-cost recycling opportunities are not available or well understood. California enacted landmark legislation to develop a statewide e-waste recovery infrastructure and in 2005 began collecting a fee at the point of sale for certain products, specifically video display devices, such as televisions and computer monitors. Qualified e-waste collectors and recyclers may be reimbursed from the fund established from the recycling fees for their costs of managing covered electronic wastes. A Cal Recycle directory includes a database searchable by county that can be advertised by local governments to facilitate recycling and proper disposal.

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