In California, it's the law to recycle. Our cities and counties are required to divert at least 50 percent of their trash away from landfills, whether through waste reduction, reuse or recycling programs. Waste Management is a proud partner with communities all around the state to help them achieve this goal.
The law was enacted in 1989 as the California Integrated Waste Management Act, or Assembly Bill 939, and set diversion goals of 25 percent by 1995 and 50 percent by 2000 for each jurisdiction. All cities and counties must have achieved the 50 percent diversion rate by the beginning of 2006, or face the possibility of up to a $10,000 per day fine from the state.
It's important for all of us to play a part in helping our communities keep materials out of landfills. If each and every resident were to lead by example, our diversion rate would go up - and we would recoup other tangible benefits as well. We would conserve space in our landfills, which in turn preserves open space, saves money on purchased goods and guards our natural resources for our children and grandchildren.
Here are some tips for reducing or diverting your household waste:
- Take advantage of any convenient services offered directly at your home, such as curbside recycling (where you can put all of your recyclables into one bin), curbside greenwaste collection and household hazardous waste collection.
- If your workplace doesn't offer a formal recycling program, considering starting one or bring your recyclables home for collection.
- Donate used clothing, toys, books, magazines, appliances and furniture to local charities or nonprofits that might give them a second life, or become a member of Freecycle to find others in your community who might find your old items useful.
- Buy items in bulk or use refills whenever possible to cut down on excess packaging and opt against "disposable" items - clean with a washable rag, shave with a rechargeable razor and eat on cleanable cookware, not paper or plastic plates. If you must use a disposable item, check to see if it is recyclable.
- If you are remodeling your home or work for a company involved in construction or demolition activities, look for opportunities to recycle or reuse the items from the project. The dirt, concrete and glass from these projects can and should be re-used to cut down on the dense materials taking up space in our landfills. Many solid waste companies who work with large businesses and commercial and residential projects offer a number of recycling programs - these opportunities should be explored.
If we all do our part, we can help reduce the waste our communities generate!