California’s 2014 Per Capita Disposal Rate

In 2014, California’s statewide disposal was 31.2 million tons and population was 38.4 million residents. This resulted in a per resident disposal rate of 4.5 pounds/resident/day calculated using SB 1016’s measurement system. The “diversion rate equivalent” for 2014 was 65 percent.

The 2014 per employee disposal rate was 10.6 pounds/employee/day, and the per employee “diversion rate equivalent” was at 66 percent.

Almost all (99 percent) of California’s 31.2 million tons of disposal were landfilled in California, while approximately 1 percent was exported to landfills out of state. An additional 0.82 million tons were transformed at three permitted waste-to energy plants in California, but were 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, continued to grow steadily in 2014 with the peak number of jobs surpassing the pre-recession peak. As the economy continues to grow, solid waste generation will continue to increase. If diversion programs are not in place to handle additional waste then we can expect higher amounts to be landfilled in the future. Disposal in 2014 has continued to increase since 2012. If we do not want this to continue then outlets other than landfills must be found.

While California as a whole remained well above the 50 percent diversion mandate set for local jurisdictions, the statewide recycling rate for 2014 remained unchanged at 50 percent in the effort to achieve 75 percent recycling by 2020. In calculating the recycling rate, CalRecycle removes from the equation certain materials and activities currently counted as diversion, such as alternative daily cover and solid waste used as fuel.

On June 16, 2015 California’s per capita disposal, diversion, and recycling rates were presented at the CalRecycle public meeting.

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 percent of solid waste generated. While similar to the state’s 50 percent waste diversion mandate for local jurisdictions, the 75 percent recycling goal does have some key differences.

Historical disposal includes total landfilled in-state and total exported tons reported at the time. Please see the Disposal Reporting System (DRS) for the most current tonnage data.

Previous Years’ Statewide Disposal Rates

For more information contact: Local Assistance & Market Development,