Waste Management

Reducing and Diverting Materials

Overconsumption of non-local, non-renewable, and non-recyclable materials is unsustainable. There is an opportunity for improvement through behavioral changes and strategic diversion practices. In addition, landfill space around Santa Monica has become increasingly scarce and expensive. Setting a goal to reduce per capita waste landfilled to 1.1 lbs per day encourages a shift to more sustainable resource use and puts less pressure on landfills and the environment, while saving money for the City and its residents. The city is progressing toward more sustainable waste management practices by reducing waste generation and increasing waste diversion through recycling and organics collection.
Organics (food scraps) are now the largest single category of disposed waste in California. When food scraps are placed in a landfill and decompose, it produces methane, a significant greenhouse gas contributor. These programs are also helping the City meet state requirements under Assembly Bill 32. One component of AB 32 calls for a reduction in the amount of organic materials sent to landfills and increased production of compost and mulch.

How are we doing?

Under the SB 1016 reporting, per capita waste landfilled in 2018 was 5.0 lbs of waste per day, exclusive of waste-to-energy transformation. In 2010, the daily rate was 3.6 lbs/resident/day.
The City is not on track to meet the 2020 target of 2.4 lbs of waste landfilled per person per day. The City aims to reach Zero Waste (95% waste diversion) by 2030 with a daily rate of 1.1 pounds per person per day. More recently, the community has increased the per capita amounts landfilled since 2017.
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 (ZWP) in 2014 setting a course to reach the goal of Zero Waste (95% waste diversion) by 2030. 
While the City has reduce its overall disposal since the adoption of the 2014 ZWP, it appears that the City is not on track to meet the milestone of 3.6 pounds per person per day target by 2020. 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. 

Pounds per Capita per Day

This indicator measures pounds per capita waste generated daily. In compliance with SB 1016, the City reports per capita disposal rates using two factors: a jurisdiction's population and its disposal as reported by disposal facilities. 
The amount of waste per capita landfilled in 2018 was 5.0 lbs of waste per day, exclusive of waste-to-energy transformation. In 2010, the daily rate was 3.6 lbs/resident/day.

Citywide Waste Generation

This graph shows the net amount of solid waste generated by residents in tons.
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.  

Waste Diversion

The City looks at solid waste in terms of the total amount generated, the amount landfilled, and the amount diverted from landfills. Waste diversion is calculated by the percent of the City's waste that has been reused, composted, or converted into energy rather than sent to a landfill. As of 2018, 81% of solid waste was being diverted from landfills.

How can I reduce, reuse, and recycle?

  • 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.