California reduces landfill waste to record low in 2012

Everyday 12,000 tons of garbage from Los Angeles flow into the Puente Hills landfill.
Everyday 12,000 tons of garbage from Los Angeles flow into the Puente Hills landfill.
Roberto (Bear) Guerra

Californians reduced the amount of trash sent to landfills to a record low last year.

According to a new report by CalRecycle, state residents and businesses together discarded an average of 4.3 pounds of garbage per day, down from 4.4 pounds in 2011.

By comparison, CalRecycle Spokesman Mark Oldfield says the state used to dump 8 pounds a day in 1989, the year the state's Integrated Waste Management Act went into effect.

Last year AB 341 went into affect, setting a goal for California to reduce, recycle, or compost 75 percent of its waste by the year 2020.

“Each incremental step in waste diversion puts the state closer to our goal of 75 percent recycling,” said CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen. “The public is doing its part by being conscious of what we throw out and thinking about recycling and reuse. We at CalRecycle will continue to do our part by supporting recycling businesses and other waste diversion infrastructure that create green jobs and help achieve our goal.”

In part, curbside recycling programs and less consumption are being credited with the decline. But the collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 also meant less construction and less waste produced as a result.

Officials say organic waste, like food scraps and lawn trimmings, make up most of the state's waste.

Ninety-nine percent of California’s 29.3 million tons of waste went to California landfills, while approximately 1 percent was exported to landfills in other states.

More information about AB 341: