LOS ANGELES – There's an upside to the economy getting trashed: California landfills are receiving considerably less garbage.
At one of the nation's largest landfills in Puente Hills, about 17 miles east of Los Angeles, operators have seen a 30 percent drop in trash being delivered from neighboring municipalities.
San Francisco is throwing less into landfills than it has in three decades and in San Diego, disposal rates at the Miramar Landfill are also way down.
As the recession continues, people are buying fewer items, eating out less and construction waste has plummeted with the slowing housing market.
Many municipalities have welcomed the trash reduction, as they are paying less in tipping fees. In Los Angeles, the city collected 6 percent less trash in the last three months, saving the Bureau of Sanitation more than $400,000 in fees.
The extra money has helped offset a drop in revenue from their recycling programs, caused by a slump in commodity prices.
But in San Diego, where the city runs the landfill in Miramar, officials are struggling to make up for the drop in revenue.
Dropping trash rates have caused Puente Hills Landfill officials to cut costs. The Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, which runs the dump, has cut from five to one the number of days a week workers sort recyclables at one center.
Because these recyclables now have little value, more of the material is ending up in the landfill and conservation experts fear the recession may hurt the state's efforts to reuse most of its waste.
Part of the reduction in trash at landfills can be attributed to a state law calling for 50 percent of trash to be diverted from dumps, but officials says the recent decreases are largely the result of less consumption.