County Joins With Cities in Trash-Reduction Effort


Twenty-one cities in Southeast Los Angeles County and the county Department of Public Works have agreed to join together in an effort to comply with a state law that requires them to reduce the amount of trash generated within their borders.

With the approval of the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, the county became the final agency to join the Southeast Area Integrated Waste Management Group.

City and county officials said the group will save money by combining to design a plan to reduce solid waste.

Los Angeles County residents and businesses dump a total of 50,000 tons of garbage a day--enough to fill Dodger Stadium in nine days. Landfills are quickly becoming overloaded.

The 1989 state Integrated Solid Waste Management Act requires local governments to reduce the amount of trash they send to landfills 25% by 1995 and 50% by the year 2000. Cities and counties that don't meet the trash-reduction goals can be fined up to $10,000 a day.

The Southeast group is one of half a dozen in which the county has joined with cities to comply with the law.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday also allocated $94,000 to pay for its share of a study by EMCON Associates, a Burbank-based firm that will assess the trash that Southeast cities are dumping and how to reduce it.

Several of the 21 cities that have joined the Southeast group must still approve the contract with the consulting firm, which will be paid a total of $538,000, said Mike Mohajer, the county Department of Public Works engineer who coordinates recycling programs.

Cities that have joined the Southeast group are Artesia, Bell, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, Cerritos, Commerce, Compton, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, Huntington Park, La Mirada, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Norwalk, Paramount, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs, Signal Hill, South Gate and Whittier.

Cities that are not part of such groups must draw their own plans for garbage reduction. The plans must be submitted to the county by July 1 of next year.

EMCON and its subcontractors need to perform several tasks to meet that deadline.

First, they must assess the types and quantities of garbage that Southeast communities are shipping to the county's landfills. Researchers will analyze and weigh representative loads of garbage as they are dumped during a one-week test period, said EMCON project manager Mike Dean.

The garbage must be broken into 172 distinct categories based primarily on types of materials and where they were produced, Mohajer said.

The consultants will then recommend how much of each type of waste can be diverted--either by recycling, composting or reductions at the source. The latter, for example, could include encouraging consumers to photocopy on both sides of paper or to use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones, Dean said.

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