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Solid Waste Disposal in Los Angeles County
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, in 2012,
county residents and businesses generated about 21.5 million tons of
municipal solid waste, averaging about 58,987 tons per day. However, about
60 percent (in 2012) of all that is reused, recycled or diverted from
landfills. Only about 9 million tons of municipal solid waste actually ended
up in landfills.
Active Landfills & Recycling Centers
*The Commerce Refuse-to-Energy
Facility produces power seven days a week, 24 hours per day. An average of
100 trucks per day
In 2013, Puente Hills Landfill, the largest landfill in the United States, closed to accepting any new waste. The landfill rose 500 feet high and covered 700 acres. In 2005, it accepted four million tons of waste.
The Commerce Refuse-to-Energy Facility and the Southeast Resource Recovery Facility (SERRF) in Long Beach are both owned by separate authorities and created by Joint Powers Agreements. Sanitation District No. 2 jointly oversees the Commerce facility with the City of Commerce and the SERRF with the City of Long Beach. The SERRF is operated by a private contractor.
The largest gas-to-energy facility is located at the now-closed Puente Hills Landfill. The facility produces more than 40 megawatts of power each day, which would meet the energy requirements of approximately 100,000 homes. Edison International buys most of the facility’s energy output.
By 1947, there were more than 300,000 backyard trash incinerators throughout Los Angeles County - the primary means of waste disposal for many homes. These had come to be seen, however, as significant contributors to the increasing serious problem of air pollution in the region. Efforts to ban backyard incinerators, however, were met with fierce opposition by homeowners. Incinerator owners believed that oil refineries were the true polluters and little had been done to curtail these. Cities nevertheless began establishing residential trash collection operations and, by 1958, backyard incinerators were completely banned.
In 1961, Sam Yorty ran for mayor of Los Angeles with the promise to end the inconvenience of separating refuse. After his election, a Los Angeles city ordinance was passed that eliminated the requirement to sort recyclables.
During the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, in just 22 days, event participants, including athletes, trainers, coaches and spectators, produced 6.5 million pounds of trash - more than six pounds per person per day.
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