In November, the City of Los Angeles took a transformative step toward a pro-community, pro-worker, and pro-environment system for managing its trash by adopting Don’t Waste LA’s proposal for an exclusive franchise agreement for commercial and multi-family waste. City Council’s bold action will advance the City’s march toward zero waste, stop rate-gouging for small businesses, help communities of color impacted by waste facilities, and create new hope for the workers who handle our trash.
The action comes after two years of study, debate, and public pressure for change, all led by Don’t Waste LA. Don’t Waste LA is a coalition of community, environmental, labor, and business groups led by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. One of the most important developments in the struggle to change LA’s trash system is the emergence of the small business community as a strong advocate for change. Many small business owners testified in council about their desire for the expanded access to recycling and protection against rate gouging the Don’t Waste LA’s proposal includes.
City staff will now move forward on implementing the exclusive franchise. During that time, Don’t Waste LA will continue to advocate for zero waste, fair rates, reduced truck impacts, and respect for trash workers as LA pioneers a national model for responsible trash management.
Tragically, the need for change in the recycling and trash industry was brought home when a recycling worker was killed at a facility in Oakland in November.
A 34-year old man working at a plastics recycling facility was killed when the forklift he was repairing fell on his head. The facility had been the target of previous Cal/OSHA inspections, and is part of an industry that includes the fourth deadliest occupation in the nation according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The man’s death underscores the need for cities and states to take an active role in developing comprehensive recycling policy that increases accountability, safety, and trash diversion rates, while decreasing impacts on communities and workers. Stay tuned for more news of recycling campaigns across the country.