What is this indicator?

The City’s goals for solid waste are first to reduce waste generation and then to increase the percentage of waste that is diverted from landfills. The City looks at solid waste in terms of the total amount generated, the amount landfilled, and the amount diverted from landfills through conservation, recycling, composting, reuse, and waste-to-energy conversion. This indicator measures the net amount of solid waste generated by residents in tons.

Why is it important?

The City recognizes the importance of providing a system in which Santa Monicans can properly dispose of waste. This can only be achieved through the cooperative efforts of the City and community members to reduce waste and increase the amount recycled and composted within Santa Monica. Solid waste disposed in landfills generates methane and contributes to the City's carbon footprint. Over-consumption of non-local, non-renewable, and non-recyclable materials is unsustainable. In addition, landfill space - in and around Santa Monica - has become increasingly scarce and expensive. A significant portion of disposed solid waste can be diverted from landfills through behavioral changes and municipal action.
A higher diversion target encourages a shift to more sustainable resource use and alleviates pressure on landfill and the environment. To achieve more sustainable waste management practices and reduce the amount of waste landfilled, per capita waste generation needs to decrease.
While zero waste goals may always require continuous improvements, the City is monitoring and tracking our progress towards zero waste future.

How are we doing?

In 2018, the total amount of waste generated by Santa Monica residents was 91,425 tons. The amount of waste generated has been on a downward trend since 2000 (baseline year). Even though, the amount of waste generated in 2018 has increased from the previous year. The 2020 target is not to exceed the baseline year amount of 169,125 tons.  
Over the years, the City of Santa Monica has been a leader in zero waste and held a high diversion rate. The City adopted a Zero Waste Strategic Plan Update (ZWP) in 2019 setting a course to reach the waste generation goal of 1.1 pounds per capita by 2030.
While the City has reduced its overall disposal since the adoption of the 2014 ZWP, the City has not yet implemented many of its zero waste strategies that were proposed in the 2014 ZWP. A dramatic decrease in disposal is required in order to meet the 1.1 pounds per person per day target by 2030. 

How can you help?

  • Sign-up for Recycling Collection or Organics Collection
  • Become an Eco-Ambassador
  • Avoid products that are excessively packaged.
  • Fix items rather than disposing and replacing when possible. Attend a Repair Cafe event.