SAN DIEGO (AP) — Californians reduced the amount of trash sent to landfills to a record low last year, according to new figures from the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.
State residents and businesses together discarded an average of 4.3 pounds of garbage per day, which is down from 4.4 pounds per person in 2011, according to U-T San Diego.
By comparison, the state used to dump more than 8 pounds per person a day in 1989, the year the state’s Integrated Waste Management Act went into effect, U-T-San Diego reports.
The average is calculated by dividing the state’s total trash disposal — 29.3 million tons in 2012 — by the state’s population of 37.7 million that year.
In part, curbside recycling programs and less consumption are being credited with the decline.
However, the collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 also meant less construction and less waste produced as a result.
“As the economy slowed, you had less consumption, less construction, or less waste produced,” Mark Oldfield, spokesman for the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, told the newspaper. “One of the challenges moving forward will be, as the economy continues to improve, how do we continue the strides we’ve taken while reducing greater amounts of waste?”
Organic waste, like food scraps and lawn trimmings, make up most of the state’s waste. For that reason, large-scale composting will be a high priority in coming years.
Major cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, already have city-wide composting programs for residents.