Following a vote by the Los Angeles City Council, multiple council members held a press conference alongside 200 members of the Don’t Waste LA Coalition celebrating final approval of the Zero Waste LA exclusive franchise system.
Zero Waste LA is a public-private partnership designed to address the 3-million tons of waste disposed annually by businesses, consumers and residents, according to the city of Los Angeles website. This system establishes a waste and recycling collection program for all commercial, industrial and large multifamily customers in the city of Los Angeles. (For other news about this system, see this article.)
On Sept. 26, 2016, LA Sanitation reported to the Board of Public Works the recommendations for the award of the Zero Waste LA franchise system contracts. Upon deliberation and review of the staff report by LA Sanitation, the Board of Public Works unanimously approved the recommendations and forwarded the report to the Mayor’s Office and city council for final consideration and adoption.
Zero Waste LA is designed to address the limitations of the existing hauler permit system, which includes the inability to meet city landfill reduction goals and to comply with state mandating recycling requirements, the lack of requirements for haulers too operate clean fuel vehicles, inefficient vehicle routing and insufficient material processing Infrastructure.
The franchise system's goals include improving health and safety for solid waste workers, the city’s air quality and customer service. It also seeks to create consistent, fair and equitable rates and to create a system that ensures long-term competition.
The Don’t Waste LA Coalition says 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.
Councilwoman Nury Martinez underscored the long process 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. Martinez said, “I championed Zero Waste LA from day one as an environmental justice advocate. Now, six 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.”
Councilmember Paul Koretz, the co-author of the motion to create Zero Waste LA, said, “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.”
Councilmember José Huizar, who co-wrote the original 2010 motion with Koretz, said, “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.”
Robert Nothoff, director of Don’t Waste LA, said, “By bringing together community, environmental and worker rights organizations, Don’t Waste LA proved that real change begins at the local level. 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 fifth most dangerous industry in the nation.”
Linda Escalante, an environmental policy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said, “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 workplace standards set in Zero Waste LA are designed to protect workers in what is ranked as the fifth most dangerous job in the U.S. Ron Herrera, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 396, said, “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.”
The Don’t Waste LA Coalition is made up of community, environmental, faith and labor organizations working to increase recycling and composting in Los Angeles while improving the safety of the waste and recycling industry.