Spring 2015       |      Cindi A. Christenson, Registrar      |      Edmund G. Brown Jr., Governor


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Landfill Waste Reduction Deadline Nearing

Contractors have an important role in California's goal to dramatically reduce solid waste materials that are sent to landfills by 75 percent, a goal targeted for 2020. Under a 2011 law created by Public Resources Code sections 41780.01 and the Department of Resources' Recycling and Recovery's (CalRecycle) guidelines, California residents and businesses must throw away less than 2.7 pounds per person per day (on average) to meet the 75 percent goal. The per-person amount was identified using a base-level calculation of 10.7 pounds per person from 1990 to 2010.


Known as the "75 Percent Initiative," contractors also must work to meet the strict new building standards of CALGreen (California Green Building Standards Code). Construction and demolition waste represents a significant amount of the overall waste stream sent to landfills.

According to a 2008 Cal Recycle survey, the most recent available, construction/demolition materials make up almost 30 percent of the waste total by weight. CalRecycle plans to release an updated survey of California's waste stream later this year. Current law, updated in 2013, in part requires that 50 percent of construction-generated waste be diverted from landfills by 2020. That regulation is part of the larger overall intent of CALGreen to reduce water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy consumption through responsible building practices in California.

CalRecyle identifies typical construction project byproducts as lumber, drywall, metal, masonry (brick and concrete), carpet, plastic, pipe, rocks, dirt, paper, cardboard, and green waste associated with landscaping. Many of these materials already are being diverted for reuse or recycling by contractors. Officials hope that "green" practices will continue to grow as a building philosophy and practical way to save needed space at landfills.

CalRecycle urges construction and renovation contractors to consider and adopt these steps before they embark on a project, if they haven't already:

Establish a Construction Waste Management Plan

Estimate the amount and type of waste that will be generated from a project, determine what can be recycled, and the cost for haul-off. Many local jurisdictions have construction and demolition ordinances, so contractors should refer to those for guidance.

Waste management links through CalRecycle:


A popular trend in green, or sustainable, building is the practice of reusing components that previously were discarded. Rather than demolishing a building or parts of it, an increasing number of contractors are now "deconstructing," or dismantling building components for reuse or recycle. Cabinets, doors, windows, and even sections of building frames can be salvaged and resold, offsetting the cost of taking down a structure.

CalRecycle has these sustainable building links:


Providing containers, or bins, to separate construction byproducts on a job site is one of the main tenets of an overall waste management plan for a building or multi-staged renovation project. The practice will result in a clean organization of recyclables that will be easier to sort or sell.

The materials most often separated and recovered from construction/renovation projects include wood waste, drywall, metal, paper, and cardboard. The recycle market has evolved to take in most construction waste products, and processors can be found in almost every part of the state.

More recycling links from CalRecycle:

CalRecycle also has a video series about waste reduction practices on its YouTube and Video Central training page.

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