Glendale is roughly 20 miles from the ocean, but the city spends about $1.4 million a year to reduce litter that could pollute local waterways, according to a report issued by an environmental advocacy group this week.
That makes Glendale the sixth-highest spender among 21 large communities with populations of 75,000 to 249,999 people, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council,, which analyzed 95 cities that represent more than one-third of the population statewide.
The cities in the analysis ranged in size from 700 residents to nearly 4 million.
About 85% of Glendale's spending covers street-sweeping costs of nearly $1.2 million, with the remainder of the $1.4 million divided among storm-drain cleaning and maintenance, manual cleaning, public education and stormwater capture devices, the report states.
Although cities such as Glendale mostly do street-sweeping to reduce blight, it also impacts litter in waterways, said Serena Ingre, a council spokeswoman.
“There are many reasons to do street sweeping, and we are not only concerned about the waste that gets into the storm drain. Litter on city streets is a blight, nuisance and potentially a public health concern,” she said.
Glendale may be far from the ocean, but in California, waste management is mostly delegated to local governments so land-locked communities also have to spend money to reduce aquatic debris, according to the report.
Most aquatic debris comes from land-based sources, the report states.
Plastic waste imposes costs on local governments and businesses, creates navigational hazards, kills birds, turtles, dolphins and other marine life, and may even threaten human health. Check how much your community spends on cleaning up trash from streets and the environment.
In December, Glendale approved spending $150,000 on 579 storm-water screens that prevent trash as small as 5 millimeters in diameter from entering the storm drain system. That data was not included in the report, which includes 2011 statistics for Glendale. Those screens were required by state law.
Altogether, cities in California spent $428 million to combat litter, according to the report. Out of the 95 cities analyzed, Glendale ranks 13th in annual cost for preventing litter in waterways and 58th in per-capita spending, paying $7.29 per person.
Los Angeles spent the most annually at about $36 million and Del Mar ranked No. 1 in per-capita spending, paying $71.22 per person.
To reduce aquatic debris, the natural resources council recommends implementing bans on single-use plastic bags, Styrofoam packaging and incentivizing waste reduction and reuse.
Glendale's plastic bag ban took effect in July at farmers markets and grocery stores with gross annual sales of $2,000,000 or more and stores with at least 10,000 square feet of retail space with a licensed pharmacy. The prohibition is set to expand to small grocers, liquor stores, convenience stores and pharmacies in January.
Some City Council members have also said they'd like to prohibit Styrofoam, but others have expressed their doubts because of the impact it would have on local restaurants.