After more than a decade of infrastructure and effort, early years of doubt and nay saying and a seismic shift in public opinion, California now diverts 52 percent of the 76 million tons of solid municipal wastes it generates yearly. The official 52 percent statewide diversion rate meets a legislatively imposed mandate and places the state at the forefront of national efforts to reduce and recycle our trash.
California’s environmental leadership is critically important, both because of its size (as 5th or 7th or 10th largest “country” in the world) and because of its repeated demonstration that environmental and economic performance can go hand in hand. Another case in point: per capita energy use has stayed level in California over the past 30 years — of major economic growth — while doubling in the US as a whole.
Next move to watch: California’s proposed AB 32 legislation, which will institute carbon caps at the state level — in a state big enough to potential move the US past the inaction in Washington.