Los Angeles to Go Zero Waste by 2050

Connector Fall 2016

The US’s second most populous city, Los Angeles, has a lofty goal of achieving zero waste by 2050. The Los Angeles Board of Public Works brought the California city closer to its goal by approving a contract that will overhaul its waste collection.

The $3.5 billion waste hauling contract will split the city into 11 franchise zones served by seven waste haulers. Under the contract, the franchise holders are required to collectively reduce solid waste disposal by 1 million tons a year by 2025. The franchise rights last 10 years and will take effect in July 2017. The contracts also include over “$200 million in investment in recycling and materials handling infrastructure.” Other goals include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and food waste.

Under the current waste collection system in Los Angeles, about 144 private haulers collect waste from multifamily and commercial sites in what is reportedly an inefficient system.

In April 2014, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council approved an ordinance that allowed for the establishment of an exclusive franchise system. Called the Zero Waste LA franchise policy, it will transform the city’s waste and recycling system for apartments and businesses. And it makes Los Angeles the “first and largest city nationally to adopt a robust plan to move toward zero waste,” says the Don’t Waste LA coalition. For over four years, the coalition made up of over 35 environmental organizations conducted researched and advocated for a better waste collection system.

Environmental outcomes and service mandates of the program, known as Zero Waste L.A., include:

  • reduction of landfill disposal by 1,000,000 tons per year by 2025;
  • transparent and predictable solid waste and recycling service rates for the next 10-20 years;
  • quality customer service standards with LA Sanitation District (LASAN) monitoring and enforcement;
  • franchise hauler accountability for program outcomes and customer satisfaction through a series of measures implemented by LASAN, up to and including liquidated damages;
  • compliance with environmental regulations, including mandatory commercial and organics recycling;
  • investment of over $200 million in new and improved solid resources infrastructure; clean fuel vehicles; and
  • decrease and recycling of food waste, and increase in food rescue.

Los Angeles seeks to serve as a model for other cities. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also proposed a reform of the city’s commercial waste collection services, which is similar to that of Los Angeles’ new system. It would divide commercial waste collection into several geographic zones and private waste haulers would be selected for each zone.

Sources: Triple Pundit and Recycling Today