Zero Waste


Don't Waste LA T-Shirt

"The problem of sustainability is simple enough to state. It requires that the fertility cycle of birth, growth, maturity, death and decay should turn continuously in place so that the law of return is kept and nothing is wasted."


- author Wendell Berry



After a long process which began back in 2009, Councilmember Koretz and Councilmember Jose Huizar finalized, with unanimous City Council approval, what has been called a “historic” Zero Waste plan for the City of Los Angeles. The program will completely overhaul commercial and multi-family waste collection, increase service, ensure fair pricing, dramatically increase recycling and set the City on a course to achieve its aggressive goal of diverting 90 percent of its waste from landfills by 2025. It will roll out beginning in July, 2017.

The waste sector is the 5th most dangerous and one of the most environmentally problematic industries, and was identified by the Councilmembers and the “Don’t Waste LA” Coalition as one where the City could substantially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the number of huge trucks driving down and breaking the City’s streets and alleyways, drastically decrease the amount of trash and food waste going to landfills, and vastly improve the lives of workers. The Councilmembers introduced this motion directing LA Sanitation to redesign the commercial waste system to accomplish those goals and Councilmember Koretz was quite pleased at the level of professionalism and integrity that the department staff put into the effort.

Councilmember Koretz with Councilmembers O’Farrell, Huizar, Martinez, Ryu and Blumenfield and members of the “Don’t Waste LA” Coalition celebrate the Zero Waste LA victory at a press conference directly following the vote. As new chair of Energy & Environment Committee, Councilmember Martinez showed significant leadership in completing an enormous effort she began outside City Hall as an coalition advocate.

Los Angeles Becomes National Leader in Zero Waste with Historic Overhaul of Waste Management System

December 13, 2016

Following a historic vote by the Los Angeles City Council, multiple members of the City Council held a press conference alongside 200 members of the Don’t Waste LA Coalition in celebration of the final approval of the Zero Waste LA exclusive franchise system . Zero Waste LA will make Los Angeles a national leader in modern and sustainable waste collection, and set the city on track for diverting 90 percent of its waste from landfills by 2025. With this new system, all city residents and businesses will have access to recycling, expanded compost collection, and improved job quality.

Councilwoman Nury Martinez underscored the long process that the city has undertaken with a goal of increasing recycling, reducing greenhouse gases, and lifting health and safety standards in one of the most dangerous industries in the nation. The Councilwoman said, “I championed Zero Waste LA from day one as an environmental justice advocate. Now, 6 years later, I’m thrilled to cast my vote for this historic legislation as the Councilwoman from the San Fernando Valley. I applaud all of our City Council and community advocates who have remained steadfast on this journey to ensure that LA will lead the way to modern and sustainable waste management for cities across the country. This effort will help communities that have been traditionally hurt by this industry. I’ll always be an environmental justice advocate at heart, and today’s vote makes me very proud.”

L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz, the co-author of the motion to create Zero Waste LA, added his enthusiasm, “I have no doubt that the businesses selected to service Angelenos in this historic new system will meet the rigorous standards we have established, and provide all of our city’s residents with quality customer service and recycling. Best of all, we will dramatically reduce waste truck trips on our streets and greenhouse gas emissions. I have been a champion of this since day one, and, after six years of work, the vision that we set forth with Zero Waste LA is now a national model. New York, San Diego, and other cities across the country are seeking to follow in our footsteps.”

“When 70% of our waste in the City of Los Angeles comes from commercial buildings and apartments, it was imperative to overhaul a high polluting industry as Chair of E&E with my colleague Paul Koretz and all our partners,” said Council member José Huizar, who co-wrote the original 2010 motion with Council member Koretz. “Today, we act to protect our environment and ensure that everyone in Los Angeles has access to recycling that matches our single-family home curbside service, which is the best in the nation. During my time as E&E Chair, we set goals to eliminate coal use by 2025, banned plastic bags to protect our waterways, increased our solar energy use and set this historic plan in motion. In today’s political climate, it is critical that the City of Los Angeles continue to lead the way in environmental protections. The rest of the nation will follow.”

Robert Nothoff, Director of Don’t Waste LA stated, “By bringing together community, environmental, and worker rights organizations, Don’t Waste LA proved that real change begins at the local level.” He added, “This local coalition has achieved tremendous environmental benefits for all Angelenos, as Zero Waste LA will help LA reach zero waste which will reduce greenhouse gases across the city by 2.6 million tons, divert 1-million tons of waste from landfills by 2025, and establish rigorous workplace protections in what is currently the 5th most dangerous industry in the nation.”

The policy has also been lauded by national environmental organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Linda Escalante, an Environmental Policy Advocate for the organization, stated “The Natural Resources Defense Council applauds the City of LA on an historic shift to a system that will now turn waste into a valuable resource instead of burying it in landfills. Zero Waste LA establishes a framework for efficient organics collection, and will prioritize food recovery for needy families instead of tossing our food into a landfill to rot away.”


As a follow up to his Zero Waste effort, Councilmember Koretz introduced and got City Council approval for this motion to address the City’s quite serious organic waste problem facing the City. Currently, organic waste makes up about 33% of our waste stream and, when left to rot in landfills, it produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas with at least 21 times more heat-trapping potential than carbon dioxide. Organic waste is described as food waste, green waste, landscaping and pruning waste, non-hazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste. Organics can be recycled into renewable energy and compost, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water, chemical pesticides and fertilizer use while creating local green jobs.

The water/soil nexus
Recycling organics into compost, for one beneficial example, can play a significant role in our state’s water crisis. With California still facing the worst drought in recorded history, the ability to return organic matter to soil becomes increasingly important. Just a 1% increase in soil organic matter allows for an acre of soil to hold 16,500 more gallons of water. Additionally, returning organic matter back to the soil helps to regrow the soil’s humus layer, which sequesters carbon and provide biological minerals that make food more nutrient rich.

To learn more about the benefits of healthy soil, please visit:

Or watch the video.


Material Recovery Facility

A MRF is a "material recovery facility" where the items you put in your blue bin to be recycled are sorted. What "secondary" means is that Titus Services sorts through the residual waste materials that other companies would be sending to landfills and finds more gems to recycle. Through innovation and experimentation, Titus has learned how to recover more than 60% of these materials, sort it, bundle it and source it to buyers. Not only are they creating new, green jobs in the City, they are a genuine asset in the City's efforts to meet its zero waste goals.

To read about Councilmember Koretz’s other enormous zero waste effort, the City’s plastic bag ban, please click here.

Recycle Efforts


Everybody wins when we all recycle together and know the best practices for proper disposal.

Compost Booth

LA Sanitation staff provided opportunities for visitors to learn how to pot small fruit plants and about "Closing the Loop" with the City of L.A's mulch and compost programs. Eleven mulch giveaway sites are open to the public in the City.

Biosolids Booth

LA Sanitation staff greeted visitors to provide information about Biosolids, a nutrient rich organic byproduct from wastewater treatment. The City produced more than 245,000 tons of Biosolids in 2014 that met the requirements of National Biosolids Partnership Biosolids Management Program and beneficially reused.