L.A. Hikes Hauler Fee for Diversion

If apartment dwellers won't recycle on their own, the city of Los Angeles will force haulers to do it for them. This fall, the city's Board of Public Works launched an environmental program, requiring certain haulers who serve multi-unit residences such as apartments to give 10 percent of their gross revenue to recycling programs. The programs must target multi-unit facilities, which also include condominiums and townhouses; commercial businesses; and other private-sector customers operating in the city.

The subjects of the city-levied fee are private haulers who pick up more than 1,000 tons of waste per year. In addition to handing over 10 percent of their gross revenue, qualified haulers also must reacquire a permit to operate within the city.

“We thought it was important to create a financial incentive for private haulers to foster and engage in recycling activities,” Board of Public Works President Valerie Lynne Shaw said in a press release. She added that to encourage all levels of recycling, private haulers who take mixed loads of waste to processors to separate recyclables after collection will be offered an incentive/rebate program.

The city expects the program to help achieve a 70-percent waste diversion goal, which it hopes to meet by 2020. According to Bureau of Sanitation Director Judith A. Wilson, Los Angeles reached a 59 percent diversion rate in 2000, exceeding the 50-percent diversion rate mandated that year for each jurisdiction by the California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (Assembly Bill 939).

The Department of Public Works' Bureau of Sanitation already operates L.A.'s Blue Bin program, which provides weekly curbside collection of recyclables for 720,000 single-family residences in the city. In the past four years, Blue Bin program participation has increased 150 percent, generated nearly $1.6 million in revenue and collected 220,000 tons of recyclables.

“The recycling program began because the city recognized that recycling and multi-family complexes just were not being handled adequately,” says Dan Meyers, spokesman for the Bureau of Sanitation's Solid Resources Citywide Recycling Division. “We saw it as an opportunity to encourage recycling and establish programs for those who needed it.”

Officials anticipate the new hauler fee will generate about $10 million per year in revenue. Source-separated materials and haulers who pick up less than 1,000 tons of waste per year are not subject to the fee and do not have to obtain a permit. “A large roofing company that hauls its own waste to the landfill is not a waste hauler per se, but if the company transports enough, it will be required to obtain a permit,” Meyers notes. About 70 permits have been issued since the program began Sept. 1.

“Haulers are certainly not happy about the fee,” Meyers admits, noting that it is paid each quarter to the city. “But this is something that most are used to. Almost all of L.A. County's cities have a similar system in place.” Establishing new recycling programs means more customers for haulers in the long run, he says.

Unlike the county's other municipalities, Los Angeles has directed where the funds will go, Meyers says. “The money generated from this fee can be used only for recycling programs.”

According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, Los Angeles disposed a total of 3,941,493 tons of waste in 2000 including buried, imported and burned refuse.