July 21, 2009

Los Angeles Rocks at Recycling

If you don't think Los Angeles is serious about recycling, think again. It's not all sunshine and starlets here. According to a recent survey, Los Angeles was ranked the top recycler out of the 10 largest U.S. cities. We have an awesome recycling rate of 65 percent! Click here to see the list, which includes New York, San Diego, Chicago, and Dallas. We beat them all!

The great news is that Los Angeles has such a high recycling rate. But what's going on in places like Houston, with a 16 percent rate, and San Antonio, with a dismal 4 percent? Not such great news. As a nation, we've got a long way to go.

I had logged on to L.A.'s Department of Sanitation site to give you a few recycling tips and found that survey and list. Most of you probably already know this, but cities are constantly changing and updating what you can recycle. The best way to know what you can throw into your bins is to check your city's Department of Sanitation website. For example, we had an old refrigerator magnet that said we couldn't recycle things that we now can, like yogurt containers and styrofoam.

So make sure you're up-to-date on what CAN be recycled and what your city accepts curbside. And speaking as a Los Angeleno, Portland and Seattle: we're ready to take you on!

Where do you live and do you know the recycling rate? I was pleasantly surprised to find out ours was so high. Let me know in the Comments section. And I would love to hear from anyone who lives outside the U.S. When we stayed in England last year, they were lightyears ahead of us on this front.


Michele said...

Ahhhh! Another aspect of life the Big Cities have that I wish the smaller communities would embrace-- curbside recyling!
We don't have it here. Period.
If we want to recycle, we have to take everything to recycle stations set up in a few places throughout town (usually in a large parking lot owned by a super-center).
Everything has to be seperated and dumped into it's specified bin (basically a dumpster with large recycling symbols on it). We are also pretty limited as to what we can recycle... probably only those items that WERE allowed on your old fridge magnet!
Many folks around here think it is too much of a hassle, or don't want to haul "gargage" in their car. Too Bad.

Mareeky said...

Hi Angela,

I live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I couldn't find the numbers for recycling in Dutch cities. However, I did come across some EU-statistics that rated the Netherlands as the 6th biggest package waste recycler in the EU. After the Czech Republic...what happened there? Our southern neighbours the Belgians rank number 1, which is also a suprise to me. Check it out at: http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/atlas/viewdata/viewpub.asp?id=4066
At least we outrank the Brits...
I am not sure how to compare the numbers to the US; depends on what is included in the statistics.

In Amsterdam we also have to take our stuff to recycle stations. Paper and glass can be disposed of everywhere, lots of collecting stations in each neighbourhood. Plastics: no can do. A lot of Dutch municipalities have recycling of plastics, but Amsterdam decided against it.
Batteries can be disposed of in most supermarkets and lots of other stores. Anything else you have to take to the cities recycling centres, on the outskirts of town. Not very feasible if you don't own a car, like me. Every two months a collecting truck stops in the neighbourhood, but that's usually when I'm not at home so currently I am fostering a great collection of old paints, CFL bulbs and other chemical waste.


Kate said...

Way to go LA! I'm pleasantly surprised. Seattle and Portland better pick up the pace...

-a tree hugging Seattleite

calimama @ compactbydesign said...

Angela, you are very fortunate to be on your side of town. And in a single family home. I'm very proud of LA's rating as a whole, but I can't say I'm part of the program. Living in the part of town that we do (the South Bay), and in a small apartment complex we have to take all of our recycling to a nearby center. It has to be separated (paper, plastic, metals and glass), and they only take glass that has CRV. Other glass can be added to the city bins. Oh right, we don't have city bins. So I drive that stuff over to a friend's house to put in her bin. Very convenient.

But hey, the big picture looks good and I'm willing to do extra to take care of our part.

twinum said...

Hi. I've been following your blog for a few weeks and have enjoyed your posts.

I was surprised not to see San Francisco on your list. We have a 72% diversion rate and are pushing to up that to 75% in the next few years. It's helped that we have curbside composting; that keeps a lot of green waste out of the landfill.

Keep up the good work. I'll keep checking in.

Angela said...

Michele- Yes, it's true that it's one of the "perks" of living in a city. Because it's really hard to get people to do something when it's really inconvenient. I include myself in that. Obviously, the easier it is to recycle, the more people will participate. As I said, we still have a long way to go, as a nation.

Mareeky- I really appreciate your comment, as I'm always interested in hearing about how things are done elsewhere. Of course it is hard to compare between countries. But if you're ahead of England, you must be doing well because we thought they had a great system, at least in London. That could change dramatically in the rest of the country.

We also have to dump "toxic waste" like used car oil, paint, anything chemical on certain days at certain drop off points. Batteries are very specific too- I actually take them to a film studio where I sometimes work, but I don't know how they got a battery recycling deal.

Kate- yes, surprising, no? I'll bet Seattle is a bit higher...

Calimama- Yes, as always, L.A. is so big and spread out it all depends on where you are. When we lived in an apartment, we did have the recycling bin. But that was in Silverlake, closer to downtown. I am happy they're making it easier, at least for this area. It would be a much bigger commitment to have to bring stuff to a friend's house.

Twinum- The only reason I didn't mention SF was because it's not one of the 10 largest cities in the U.S. in terms of population. Those were the cities on the list. SF is always on the forefront, and 72 percent is great. Thanks for commenting!