The pandemic is making L.A.’s recycling problem much worse

Plastic bottles and food containers piling up with disposable masks, gloves, and delivery packaging—the pandemic is making Los Angeles’ recycling problem much, much worse. The city hauls 800 tons of recyclables away each day and about a third of it is either incinerated or bulldozed into landfills, Los Angeles Magazine reports. This year, L.A. is on track to spend $20 million to get rid of its recyclable waste, when six years ago it was making a $4 million profit, largely due to the now-banned sales to China. “We had grown very complacent with our reliance on the China market, to the point where we thought it would be there forever and didn’t develop any alternative,” said Enrique Zaldivar, general manager of Sanitation and Environment. Under Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Green New Deal, Los Angeles is supposed to phase out disposables such as Styrofoam, plastic straws, and single-use takeout containers within the next 30 years. The current situation leaves few options to get there.

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