The Los Angeles Times presented an excellent overview of solid-waste problems throughout the Northeast in "No Dumping (There's No More Dump)" by Karen Tumulty (Part I, Sept. 2). Although the Northeast certainly has its problems, we should not forget about California's.
Californians generate 37 million tons of solid waste each year (about 2,555 pounds per capita), which is 60% greater than the national average and four times greater than the amount generated by Japan. During the next nine years, 21 counties will run out of landfill space, including Los Angeles and Orange counties, and 70% of our urban areas will be out of space within the next eight years. Many rural counties are similarly affected, including Mendocino with a four-year capacity, Del Norte with a three-year capacity and Calaveras with a one-year capacity.
Is it time to act? By passing AB 3298, the Killea-Cortese Solid Waste Recycling Act of 1988, the Legislature wants to ensure that California's cities and counties address solid-waste reduction and recycling in a comprehensive manner. The bill requires local governments to prepare waste-reduction and recycling plans with an implementation schedule showing how 25% of the solid waste will be diverted from landfills through waste reduction and recycling. There are higher reduction and recycling rates for later years.
If the governor signs it into law, we will have taken a large step towards avoiding many of the problems experienced by other states.
DOMINIC L. CORTESE