California’s 2018 Per Capita Disposal Rate Estimate

In 2018, 39.9 million tons of material from California were disposed of in in-state and out-of-state landfills. To calculate California’s recycling rate we add an additional 6.3 million tons of “disposal-related” materials, such as alternative daily cover, for a total of 46.3 million tons disposed. California has a population of 39.7 million residents and a per resident disposal rate of 6.3 pounds/resident/day, which is calculated using AB 341’s measurement system and a recycling rate of 40 percent.

California continues to be a leader in recycling and resource conservation, but the state’s 2018 recycling rate of 40 percent means we will not meet the 75 percent recycling goal in 2020. Three ongoing factors are driving the production of more waste:

  1. Disposal due to economic material generation outpacing increases in recycling
  2. Disaster debris from numerous, catastrophic wildfires
  3. Disposal of recyclables due to global trade policies and unpredictable international markets.

CalRecycle and its partners in local government and industry are making the necessary adjustments to move forward, increase recycling, reduce disposal, and conserve resources to create a healthier environment for California.

On January 21, 2020, California’s per capita disposal, diversion, and recycling rates for calendar year 2018 were presented at the CalRecycle public meeting. More detailed information on the per capita disposal rate and the statewide recycling rate can be found in the State of Disposal and Recycling Report for Calendar Year 2018.

Previous Years’ Statewide Disposal Rates

For more information contact: Local Assistance & Market Development,