Knabe Seeks Alternatives to Landfills for 8 Million Tons of County Trash

Supervisor Don Knabe today called upon federal and state legislators to amend decades-old laws and regulations to encourage the development of innovative conversion technologies in Los Angeles County, as an alternative to landfills.

Through conversion technologies, trash that would get dumped in a landfill would be converted into fuels and energy sources. For example, the 8 million tons of waste sent to landfills by County residents and businesses each year could potentially produce over half a billion gallons of renewable biofuels.

“Conversion technologies are critical to ensuring the County’s ability to manage its waste in the future, thereby protecting public health and safety, and the environment,” Supervisor Knabe said. “Yet many companies have decided not to pursue projects here due to uncertainty created by California’s outdated regulations.”

For years, cities and counties in California have led the way in recycling and waste reduction. But, while LA County’s award-winning programs have resulted in one of the highest recycling rates in the nation, there continues to be a substantial amount of residual waste remaining.

Supervisor Knabe said conversion technologies are already successfully operating in 28 countries worldwide but California laws written over two decades ago only envisioned trash being buried or burned.

“They did not account for these sophisticated technologies being able to recover products and fuels from trash and erroneously consider them equivalent to landfills and incinerators, thus creating barriers to their development,” Supervisor Knabe said.

“We must seize the opportunity and continue to lead in this effort, working diligently with State officials and legislators, other municipalities, scientists, industry representatives, and other key stakeholders to modernize State and Federal law and regulation to support, rather than discourage, these promising technologies,” he added.