This page informs interested parties about the the overall statewide diversion rate calculation for 2001. This information was first released at the March 12, 2002, Board meeting by Mark Leary, Executive Director of the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

2001 Diversion Rate--42 Percent*

California, like the rest of the country, saw an economic downturn in 2001. Even before the events of September 11, 2001, the economy had begun a downward trend. Taxable sales growth slowed in the early part of 2001, and 3rd quarter taxable sales actually decreased from the previous year. In addition, employment growth showed a downward trend in 2001.

The depressed economy has had a profound negative effect on the recyclable commodities markets. Almost all recyclable material types have dipped to record low values. Because waste generation is highly correlated with economic and demographic change, generation increased at a lower rate this year--a little less than 3 percent. The economic downturn, coupled with low market value for recyclables, caused disposal to increase at a higher rate than generation, therefore causing the 2001 statewide diversion rate to stay the same as it was in 2000--at 42 percent. This is the first time the statewide diversion rate has not increased since we started to estimate it in 1989. Please see the Estimated California Solid Waste Generation and Diversion Rates Web page for a table representing diversion program performance since 1989.

Each year the Diversion, Planning and Local Assistance (DPLA) Division  reports on statewide progress toward the diversion goals of the Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (or AB 939). Prior to 1997 the statewide diversion rate was estimated using the calendar year (January through December). This was due to the Disposal Reporting System (DRS) schedule and availability of information provided by other State agencies. Starting in 1997 staff made efforts to ensure earlier, more uniform diversion rate estimates. The statewide diversion rate estimates are now based on the federal fiscal year (October 2000 through September 2001) to provide an estimated diversion rate as close to the beginning of each year as possible.

Calculation Methodology

The purpose of AB 939 was to conserve resources and extend landfill capacity, not to penalize jurisdictions for increases in population or economic growth. Thus, when population and the economy grow, jurisdictions will not automatically fail to meet the diversion goals. The impacts of demographic and economic changes on the waste stream must be considered when calculating diversion rates. By incorporating these demographic factors, the Board-approved adjustment method allows valid comparisons between years regardless of the changes in population and economics.

The first step in performing the calculation was to determine the 2001 statewide waste generation tonnage. Generation is the total amount of waste disposed and diverted. To arrive at this number, we started with the statewide base year (1990) generation tonnage. We applied the Board-approved adjustment method, which uses changes in population and economics, to adjust 1990 generation forward to 2001. Using the adjustment method, the estimated statewide generation for 2001 was approximately 68 million tons.

The next step was to determine statewide disposal. Disposal is the total amount of waste that is landfilled, exported out of state, and transformed. The DRS tracks the amount of waste disposed by each jurisdiction in the state. However, because DRS data has not been received from some counties for 3rd quarter 2001, that data had to be estimated. Because the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) receives a fee for each ton of waste disposed within California, BOE data was used.

However, waste exported out of state and waste sent to Board-permitted transformation facilities are not subject to the BOE fee and therefore the amount of this waste had to be derived another way. Exported waste was estimated, while staff contacted the three permitted transformation facilities to obtain 3rd quarter 2001 tonnage. After combining the disposal tonnage from these data sources, and subtracting the disposal amounts at transformation facilities, 2001 total disposal is 39.5 million tons. By dividing this number by statewide generation, we arrived at a disposal rate of 58 percent.

To determine the 2001 diversion rate, we subtracted disposal (58 percent) from generation (100 percent) to get 42 percent. Approximately 28.5 million tons were diverted from landfills in 2001--a slight increase of approximately half-a-million tons (1.8 percent) over 2000. In 2001 total generation increased by about 2 million tons (2.9 percent), and disposal increased by about 1.4 million tons (3.7 percent)

* The 2001 Statewide Diversion Rate was updated in 2003 to 44 percent, due to the passage of Chapter 993, Statutes of 2002 (Chavez, AB 2308). For more information, please see the explanation in the 2002 Statewide Diversion Rate memo.

Return to current year diversion rates memo to view previous years' statewide diversion rates.

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