This week, California Integrated Waste Management Board announced the state has reached an unprecedented 58 percent waste diversion rate – diverting 54 million tons of trash for reuse and recycling.

State announces 58 percent waste diversion from landfills

 This week, California Integrated Waste Management Board announced the state has reached an unprecedented 58 percent waste diversion rate – diverting 54 million tons of trash for reuse and recycling.

California produces about 93 million tons of solid waste per year, which fills up our limited landfill space and emits methane gas, an extremely potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Fifty-four million tons of diverted waste is equivalent to filling more than 100 football fields to a height equal to the Empire State Building.

California now finds higher and better uses for that 54 million tons of trash annually, thanks to increased recycling programs, a stronger infrastructure, and an overall shift in consumer behavior. By diverting this material away from landfills, Californians are also significantly reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are proud to be the Nation’s recycling leader,” said Board Chair Margo Reid Brown. “This great accomplishment is testimony to the hard work and very successful partnership between State and local government, the solid waste industry, businesses, and everyday citizens.”
By finding higher and better uses for our daily discarded materials, California has created a mainstream industry that accounts for 85,000 jobs, generates $4 billion in salaries and wages, and produces $10 billion worth of goods and services annually. The environmental impacts of recycling are astounding. Each year recycling saves enough energy to power 1.4 million California homes, and reduces water pollution by 27,047 tons. Recycling also saves 14 million trees and helps to reduce air pollution by 165,142 tons. All of these efforts are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equal to taking 3.8 million passenger cars off the highway.

The official 58 percent statewide diversion rate surpasses a legislatively imposed mandate of 50 percent waste diversion and places the state at the forefront of national efforts to reduce and recycle our trash. The Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 required individual California cities and counties to cut their disposal rates in half, but left the specifics for doing so largely up to each jurisdiction, in light of their individual needs and available resources. The Board provides sweeping oversight of local waste diversion efforts, as well as technical and financial assistance for local programs designed to increase waste diversion. 

Today, Californians have come to view our daily discards as potentially valuable commodities that can be reused or converted into high-value products.  Nearly 500 cities, counties, and regional waste management compacts across the State contribute to the nation’s most advanced infrastructure of waste-handling options for residents and businesses alike.

 Curbside waste pickup services, recycling bins, waste sorting facilities, greenwaste composting, used oil collection centers, regulated landfills, household hazardous waste collection programs, recycled content purchasing policies, public education campaigns, electronic waste recycling, waste tire reuse programs, “green” buildings, public recognition awards, and myriad other programs abound, helping to divert tons of salvageable materials to innovative markets that did not exist just a few years ago. 

The California Integrated Waste Management Board is the State’s leading authority on recycling and waste reduction.  It promotes reducing waste whenever possible, managing all materials to their highest and best use, and protecting public health and safety and the environment.
The California Integrated Waste Management Board is one of six boards, departments, and offices within the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA).