Los Angeles Becomes National Leader in Zero Waste with Historic Overhaul of Waste Management System

Following a historic vote by the Los Angeles City Council, multiple members of the City Council held a press conference alongside 200 members of the Don’t Waste LA Coalition in celebration of the final approval of the Zero Waste LA exclusive franchise system . Zero Waste LA will make Los Angeles a national leader in modern and sustainable waste collection, and set the city on track for diverting 90 percent of its waste from landfills by 2025. With this new system, all city residents and businesses will have access to recycling, expanded compost collection, and improved job quality.

Councilwoman Nury Martinez underscored the long process that the city has undertaken with a goal of increasing recycling, reducing greenhouse gases, and lifting health and safety standards in one of the most dangerous industries in the nation. The Councilwoman said, “I championed Zero Waste LA from day one as an environmental justice advocate.  Now, 6 years later, I’m thrilled to cast my vote for this historic legislation as the Councilwoman from the San Fernando Valley. I applaud all of our City Council and community advocates who have remained steadfast on this journey to ensure that LA will lead the way to modern and sustainable waste management for cities across the country. This effort will help communities that have been traditionally hurt by this industry. I’ll always be an environmental justice advocate at heart, and today’s vote makes me very proud.”

L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz, the co-author of the motion to create Zero Waste LA, added his enthusiasm, “I have no doubt that the businesses selected to service Angelenos in this historic new system will meet the rigorous standards we have established, and provide all of our city’s residents with quality customer service and recycling.  Best of all, we will dramatically reduce waste truck trips on our streets and greenhouse gas emissions.  I have been a champion of this since day one, and, after six years of work, the vision that we set forth with Zero Waste LA is now a national model.  New York, San Diego, and other cities across the country are seeking to follow in our footsteps.”

“When 70% of our waste in the City of Los Angeles comes from commercial buildings and apartments, it was imperative to overhaul a high polluting industry as Chair of E&E with my colleague Paul Koretz and all our partners,” said Council member José Huizar, who co-wrote the original 2010 motion with Council member Koretz. “Today, we act to protect our environment and ensure that everyone in Los Angeles has access to recycling that matches our single-family home curbside service, which is the best in the nation. During my time as E&E Chair, we set goals to eliminate coal use by 2025, banned plastic bags to protect our waterways, increased our solar energy use and set this historic plan in motion. In today’s political climate, it is critical that the City of Los Angeles continue to lead the way in environmental protections. The rest of the nation will follow.”

Robert Nothoff, Director of Don’t Waste LA stated, “By bringing together community, environmental, and worker rights organizations, Don’t Waste LA proved that real change begins at the local level.”  He added, “This local coalition has achieved tremendous environmental benefits for all Angelenos, as Zero Waste LA will help LA reach zero waste which will reduce greenhouse gases across the city by 2.6 million tons, divert 1-million tons of waste from landfills by 2025, and establish rigorous workplace protections in what is currently the 5th most dangerous industry in the nation.”

The policy has also been lauded by national environmental organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Linda Escalante, an Environmental Policy Advocate for the organization, stated “The Natural Resources Defense Council applauds the City of LA on an historic shift to a system that will now turn waste into a valuable resource instead of burying it in landfills.  Zero Waste LA establishes a framework for efficient organics collection, and will prioritize food recovery for needy families instead of tossing our food into a landfill to rot away.”

The high workplace standards set in Zero Waste LA will protect workers in what is ranked as the fifth most dangerous job in the U.S. Ron Herrera, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 396 concluded, “Waste workers in LA will now be able to provide a decent living for their families without putting their lives at risk. I thank our city leaders for making this commitment to protect our environment and the lives of the hard working men and women who keep our city clean.”

For more information, visit www.DontWasteLA.org.