California is leading the nation in its recycling program. In 1989, California passed an Integrated Waste Management Bill, which required all counties and cities to “divert 50 percent of solid waste by 2000”. This goal was reached and California passed another mandate aimed at diverting 75 percent of solid waste by 2020.
These directives stated that this recycling was aimed at Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction and, because each local government jurisdiction is responsible for enforcing these mandates they, in turn, have added even more recycling rules.
CA Waste Management Laws
A description of waste believed to be causing GHG emissions is broken down as follows: “42 percent…are associated with the energy to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods we use. Goods account for 29 percent and food accounts for 13 percent. “California’s waste management laws allow people to receive funds for bottles and cans that are taken to a recycle center and, in 2013, 18 billion of these containers were redeemed. The state government has claimed that this has resulted in keeping aluminum cans from taking 80-100 years, plastic bottles 700 years and glass bottles 1 million years to decompose in a landfill.
One of the problems that have developed regarding recycling empty plastic bottles or aluminum cans is people bringing in items they have purchased in another state. As a result, anyone bringing loads of these items weighing 25 pounds or more or glass weighing 250 pound must document where they were purchased. Violators face a fine of $1,000 for each offense.
Plastic is made of polymer and is considered one of the largest contributors to gases in the atmosphere. Fortunately, recycle centers have been established that will take all plastic materials and separate them according to the government mandates.
CA School Involvement
Waste management is now a required subject in California schools and is introduced in environmental and ecology studies. Colleges are required to focus research and teaching to “promote career development and technological advancement in integrated waste management”. Programs have also been established to address recycled batteries, retreaded tires, plastic recycling, and compost. A fee is imposed at each waste facility to support the waste program. Together with their waste management program, the state has civil penalties for those who violate a waste management bill. These are $10,000 for each violation and $10,000 per day for continuous violation.
Piles of waste tires have long been a problem in California. Various Bills have been passed to address this situation. Currently there is a Waste Tire Manifest System regarding waste tires that are delivered to “permitted end use facilities”. Originally in effect in 2003, it was revised in 2005. SB 876 (Escutia) increased penalties for violations of waste tire requirements. These penalties are $10,000 to $25,000 per day per violation.
California’s Waste Management Program has come a long way in reducing business and household waste. When something is recycled, it saves land that would otherwise be lost to a continuous pile of junk.