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Waste & Landfills

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L.A. becomes the first big city in the U.S. to achieve zero waste, and recycle and reuse most of its waste locally.

Every household and business in the city generates waste, and our local landfills are filling up. By managing our waste in a smarter way through recycling and reusing materials such as packaging, food waste, and old electronics, we can turn this problem into an opportunity. Embracing resource recovery will provide opportunities for Los Angeles to use new technologies and methods, propelling us toward a cradle-to-cradle future, where most waste is ultimately reused locally rather than exported elsewhere. Recovering materials from the waste stream and reusing them locally will decrease our need for diminishing resources and stimulate green-job growth.

Progress on 2017 Outcomes

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Designate a site and project parameters for an anaerobic digestion facility with at least 50 tons of capacity to process local organic waste

The Central L.A. Recycling and Transfer station (CLARTS) was selected to process 150 tons of commercial food waste a day, and an engineering study currently in its final stage will pave the way for the implementation of anaerobic digestion at Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. The anaerobic digestion facility is expected to be operational in 2020.

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Implement a waste franchise system to increase commercial recycling rates, reduce pollution from heavy-duty waste-hauling vehicles, and enhance material recovery opportunities to reach an 80% diversion rate by 2020

The new waste franchise system, launching in July 2017, will increase the recycling rate to 90 percent by 2025. Cleaner air collection vehicles and optimized routing will reduce emissions while improving customer service.

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Expand local organic waste-collection program

Zero Waste L.A. has begun an effort to collect “green bin” organics from food service establishments, while the Bureau of Sanitation is expanding its capacity to donate edible foods. When the program begins in mid-2017, it will divert 124 tons of organic material per day.

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Progress on 2025 Outcomes

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Increase land fill diversion rate to at least 90% by 2025 and 95% by 2035.

The land fill diversion rate currently stands at 76.4 percent. By 2019, the Bureau of Sanitation will conduct a comprehensive waste characterization study to identify areas where the City can improve waste diversion.

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Increase proportion of waste products and recyclable commodities productively reused and/or repurposed within L.A. County to at least 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2035.

The Bureau of Sanitation is negotiating a contract with Zero Waste L.A. haulers in order to allow blue bin commodities to stay local. The Recycled Materials Development Zone will help businesses that can use recycled materials find city sites and funding.

Where L.A. Is Leading

L.A. has the highest recycling rate of any big U.S. city.

Feature Story

Zero Waste L.A. Goes Live

In 2016, Los Angeles became the nation’s largest city to adopt a plan to move toward zero waste. Under the $3.5 billion Zero Waste L.A. Franchise System, which is the largest commercial franchise in the U.S., 11 commercial waste franchise zones will be served by seven contract haulers, each collecting solid waste from all commercial, industrial and multi-family customers in that zone, and submit monthly tonnage reports by waste stream.

The new system advances the pLAn’s goal of diverting 90 percent of waste from landfills by 2025, and becoming a zero waste city by 2035. Program goals include reducing landfill disposal by 1 million tons annually by 2025, setting transparent and predictable solid-waste and recycling service rates, investing more than $200 million in local waste-management and recycling infrastructure, and putting more clean-fuel solid waste collection trucks on L.A. streets. The ambitious plan has the backing of Don’t Waste L.A., a coalition of environmental, community, faith-based and workers’ rights groups dedicated to improving the commercial waste hauling system. The 10-year contracts start July 2017.

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“By bringing together community, environmental and worker rights organizations, Don’t Waste L.A. proved that real change begins at the local level. This local coalition has achieved tremendous environmental benefits for all Angelenos.”

Robert Nothoff
Director, Don’t Waste LA

Waste Diversion’s Important Greenhouse Gas Benefit

By 2025, Zero Waste L.A. will divert 1.1 million tons of waste from landfills annually, eliminating more than 2 million metric tons of GHG emissions. That’s the equivalent of taking 440,308 cars off the road annually.

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City Wins

Diversion Rate of Construction Waste Skyrockets

Last year, 8,360 tons of asphalt and 5,293 tons of concrete were diverted from landfills. That’s an average diversion rate of 80 percent—significantly better than the pLAn target of 65 percent. The Bureau of Contract Administration requires contractors to submit monthly reports on the construction waste they collect and the recycling facilities where they deliver waste.

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Cloud-based Tech Means Quicker Cleanups

Reporting potholes, illegal dumping and other nuisances got a whole lot easier, faster and cheaper as the Bureau of Sanitation rolled out SANSTAR. The cloud-based app uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to pinpoint and respond to complaints in real time. City analysts also use GIS data to red-flag chronic illegal dumping sites and fine-tune scheduled cleanups.

Turning Asphalt Green

Asphalt recycling made inroads in Los Angeles last year, as the Bureau of Street Services broke ground on the City’s Asphalt Plant 1 Modernization Project. The modernized plant, set to open in late 2018, will produce 700,000 tons of asphalt with 50 percent recycled content annually. Recycling old asphalt reduces landfill waste and cuts emissions related to transporting rocks and sand from quarries.

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Partner Wins

Zero Waste Scores Big Win at Coliseum

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, partnering with USC Sustainability, became the largest NFL stadium and second-largest college stadium to meet the “zero waste” standard by repurposing more than 90 percent of the trash generated by 1.2 million patrons last year. That’s 233 fewer tons of waste in City landfills—enough to fully load nine 53-foot semi-tractor trailers.

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Greenbuild Expo Hits 90-percent Waste- diversion Mark

Organizers of Greenbuild resolved to practice what they preach when L.A. hosted the world expo last October. By adding compost bins, recruiting haulers for the new waste stream, and tweaking the back-of-house sorting process, they achieved a record-breaking 90.03 percent waste-diversion rate. That’s 18 percent better than the L.A. Convention Center’s baseline of 72 percent diversion.

Finding New Uses for Used Things

Last year L.A. SHARES handed over 3.2 million pieces of used office furniture, business electronics, office supplies, arts and crafts materials, and personal care products to 1,200 City schools and nonprofit organizations. The free stuff didn’t just benefit thousands of needy and deserving recipients, it also diverted more than 1 million pounds of materials from City landfills.

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