Materials Recovery

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. State Bill 1383 required cities to implement organics collections for residents and businesses. As the City continues to roll out more green organics bins, the City hopes to see an increase in materials diverted from landfill. 

How are we doing?

In fiscal year 2021/2022, the City saw a decreased in the amount of materials generated with a total of 91,021 tons. With continued outreach and awareness, the City hopes to see a continued downward trend of materials generated to meet the City's Zero Waste targets. 
The City aims to reach Zero Waste (95% waste diversion) by 2030 with a daily rate of 1.1 pounds per person per day. The City did not meet the 2020 target of 2.4 lbs of waste landfilled per person per day. While the City's daily rate decreased to 5.4 pounds per person per day this past fiscal year, there is still a long way to go to reach the 2030 target. 
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. In 2018, the City was measuring 81% of materials diverted from the landfill. While the City has reduce its overall disposal since the adoption of the 2014 ZWP, an significant increase in diversion is required in order to meet the 95% diversion target by 2030. 

Citywide Materials Generation

This graph shows the net amount of materials generated by residents in tons.
In fiscal year 2021/22, the total amount of materials generated by Santa Monica residents was 91,021 tons. The amount of materials generated has been on a downward trend since 2000 (baseline year). The amount of materials generated in 2022 has decreased from the previous year. The 2020 target was achieved by not to exceeding the baseline year amount of 169,125 tons.  

Pounds per Capita per Day

This indicator measures pounds per capita waste generated daily. The amount of materials per capita in fiscal year 2021-22 was 5.4 lbs of waste per day. While this is a decrease from the previous year, overall it has increase over the past decade. 

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
  • Learn how to comply to the City's Mandatory Recycling ordinance
  • Attend one of the City's collection recycling events (2023 dates TBD