California’s 2012 Per Capita Disposal Rate

In 2012, California’s statewide disposal was 29.3 million tons and population was 37.7 million residents. This resulted in a per resident disposal rate of 4.3 pounds/resident/day calculated using SB 1016’s measurement system. This is slightly less than the 2011 rate of 4.4 pounds/resident/day, and raises the per resident “diversion rate equivalent” to 66%.

The 2012 per employee disposal rate dropped to 10.8 pounds/employee/day resulting in a slight bump in the per employee “diversion rate equivalent” to 65% compared to 64% in 2011.

Almost all (99 percent) of California’s 29.3 million tons of disposal were landfilled in California, while approximately 1 percent was exported to landfills out of state. An additional 0.8 million tons were transformed at three permitted waste-to energy plants in California, but not included in the disposal rate estimate because of provisions in the law that allow limited diversion credit for transformation.

According to the California Department of Finance, labor markets, real estate markets and construction activity all showed some improvement in 2012. So far, this has not translated into increases in disposal. However, as the recovery picks up steam and the California economy improves, solid waste generation will increase as people find work, build more, produce more, and buy more. If these increased flows of materials are not planned for, they may end up in landfills rather than being recycled back into the economy.

CalRecycle will continue to support innovative and substantial diversion efforts such as mandatory commercial recycling, improved green building standards, and the universal adoption of C&D ordinances. These programs divert materials and reduce disposal.

Note: Chapter 476, Statutes of 2011 (Chesbro, AB 341) declared that by 2020 the state of California will source reduce, recycle, or compost no less than 75% of solid waste generated. While similar to the state’s 50% waste diversion mandate, the 75% recycling goal does have some key differences. 

Previous Years’ Statewide Disposal Rates

For more information contact: Local Assistance & Market Development,