SACRAMENTO, July 26, 2012 - Californians continued reducing waste in 2011, throwing away a record low 4.4 pounds of garbage per day.
This figure, called the per capita disposal rate, is calculated each year by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). In short, it is the total amount of trash disposed of at home and in workplaces, divided by the state population. Residential, commercial, industrial, and construction and demolition waste is included in the figure.
The rate is a modest improvement over 2010 and is the lowest since disposal reporting began in 1989. It is also down 1.9 pounds from the peak of 6.3 pounds per resident per day in 2005. The overall state “diversion rate equivalent” stands at 65 percent, meaning nearly two-thirds of the 86 million tons of waste generated in the state last year was kept out of landfills.
“These rates are proof that we have strong and effective resource management efforts in the state,” CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen said. “Now we have a new goal: 75 percent recycling statewide. We’re excited to work with local communities and support emerging markets to recycle and divert even more solid waste in the years to come.”
AB 341, signed into law last fall, sets a goal that California source reduce, recycle or compost 75 percent of its waste by the year 2020. CalRecycle is responsible for developing a plan to achieve that goal, and has crafted a working document to foster discussion among interested parties on how it might be accomplished.
In all, the state’s 37.4 million residents disposed of 29.9 tons of waste last calendar year. Of that, 99 percent went to California landfills, while the remaining 1 percent was exported out of the state.
The employee disposal rate, a calculation used to determine waste disposal rates for businesses, was 11.3 pounds per employee per day with an overall diversion rate equivalent of 64 percent, compared to 63 percent in 2010.
According to the California Department of Finance, labor markets, real estate markets, and construction activity all showed some improvement in 2011. So far, this has not translated into increases in disposal. However, as the recovery picks up steam and the California economy improves, solid waste generation will increase as people find work, build more, produce more, and buy more. Having effective diversion and recycling plans in place will stimulate the economy that much more by providing material for the state’s recycling market.
To learn more about the 75 percent recycling goal and California’s waste disposal rates, see CalRecycle’s website at www.CalRecycle.ca.gov.
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