L.A. planners juggle goals, markets and huge volumes of material

15 Aug 2019

The second-largest city in the country also has a very ambitious waste diversion goal: 90% by 2025. That means Los Angeles must stay creative to continue managing the massive volume of recyclables its residents generate.

“We have a vast amount of bins all throughout the city,” said Robert Potter, city of Los Angeles division manager for the Bureau of Sanitation. “There are roughly 3 million containers that are out there on any given week.”

The city’s residential recycling program relies on city crews to service 750,000 single- and multi-family homes.

Every day, the city collects 3,600 tons of garbage, 1,600 tons of organics and about 1,000 tons of recyclables. That equals out to 1.5 million tons of overall material per year, Potter said, and about 235,000 tons of recyclables in a year.

And like most municipalities, particularly those in California, Los Angeles has faced challenges stemming from the wider recycling market slump that has occured in the wake of China’s National Sword policy.

“Our recycling program has seen a shift … in being a revenue stream to a little bit of a cost center,” Potter explained.