A state-imposed deadline that will force cities and counties to reduce the stream of trash produced each day is rapidly closing in. By 1995, every city and county in California cut its landfill use by 25% or face a daily fine of $10,000. By 2000, they must cut it 50%.
California has a way to go to reach the 25% waste-reduction goal. Currently, about 12% of waste is being diverted from landfills. Only 5 million of the 45 million tons of trash produced in California each year is recycled.
The Los Angeles recycling program began in 1990 and has yet to be implemented in South-Central, West Los Angeles and a few communities in the West Valley. The city now diverts 10% of its waste from landfills, officials say.
Recycling is not the only solution. Some local governments are stressing another form of trash "diversion"--reducing the amount of trash generated in the first place by using fewer disposable products or those that require less packaging materials.
* How Los Angeles' Program Works
Each home receives one yellow, 14-gallon bin for metal and aluminum cans, bottles, glass and plastic containers. Newspapers and corrugated cardboard are placed next to the bin. Residents also receive a black trash container and a green container for yard waste. Both have wheels. A truck equipped with an automatic arm lifts these containers off the curb and empties their contents to be transported. Recyclables are picked up the same day as regular trash and taken to various vendors throughout city.
* Recycling in the Valley
City officials say that curbside recycling will become Valleywide when the final three communities are added to the program--Reseda on July 26, Warner Center on Aug. 9 and Winnetka on Sept. 20.
The diversion rate in the East Valley is lower than that of the west because yard-waste recycling has not yet begun.
* Households: 148,000
* Diversion rate: 9%
* Households: 120,000
* Diversion rate: 35%
What's in a Landfill
In Los Angeles paper and yard waste make up a more than 40% of the garbage in landfills.
Yard waste 12.7
What's Being Recycled Paper makes up a large portion of the materials that are being recycled in California and particularly in Los Angeles. A breakdown of the material that is recycled:
Yard Waste: 9.4%
Yard Waste: 2.6%
Waste Reduction Tips: Reuse, reduce, recycle
In addition to utilizing the city's curbside recycling program and drop-off centers, residents can take a number of measures to reduce waste:
* Buy recycled products and products with least amount of packaging
* Use reusable mugs and eating utensils instead of plastic and Styrofoam
* Make compost for the garden.
* Buy reusable instead of disposable items, such as razors
* Buy economy size to reduce number of containers thrown away
* In Los Angeles, call 800-773-CITY for ways to reduce waste; call 800-332-SAVE for the recycling center nearest you.
Their Next Life: What Becomes of Recyclables Plastic soda bottles, peanut butter jars, mouthwash bottles and ketchup containers Recycled into fiber fill for jackets, carpet fibers, rope, appilance components Milk and water jugs, detergent bottles, shampoo and hand creme containers Recycled into flower pots, traffic barrier cones, toys, trash cans Water bottles, containers with handles and credit cards Recycled into shower curtains and flooring High-grade paper Recycled into grocery bags, stationery, tissue and paper towels, diapers, book and magazine paper Sources: Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, California Waste Management Board, Willdan Associates
Researched and written by JULIE SHEER / Los Angeles Times