- California residents sent more materials to landfills in 2015 than in 2014, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The organization credits an "accelerating economy" for this increase.
- The state saw 33.2 million tons of material disposed of in 2015 (about 4.7 pounds per person per day), compared to 31.2 million tons in 2014 (about 4.5 pounds per person per day). This increase has been accompanied by a slight dip in the state's recycling rate, which recently dropped below 50%.
- CalRecycle noted that 40% of the increased disposal was organic material, and if that had been diverted from landfills, it would have prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to 2 million metric tons of CO2.
While the state's economic spike is positive for residents and businesses, it will ultimately have a negative effect on environmental goals if diversion is not kept at pace of disposal. One of the biggest obstacles is the low cost of dumping materials into landfills as opposed to recycling, which CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline recognizes as a challenge.
"...We have to change the equation to one that supports the highest and best end use of discards," he said in a statement. "Disposal-related greenhouse gases, and the public health and environmental problems they produce, don’t take a break whether the economy is up or down."
Despite this slight setback in numbers, California is still seen as a role model state for its impressive statewide diversion rate of 63%. Efforts such as various Styrofoam bans, organics recycling laws, and plastic bag bans in 145 California cities have helped keep this rate high and keep California on the forefront of new and innovative waste disposal projects.