Governor Brown signed a bill that commits California to recycling 75% of its waste by 2020, Assembly Bill 341.
Florida set the same target in 2010, making those two states the strongest in the country in recovering and reusing waste. California's first recycling law, implemented 21 years ago, has created 125,000 jobs.
California's law brings commercial businesses, institutions, and apartment buildings into the fold, requiring them to implement recycling programs for the first time.
Over 80% of the plastic collected in California is shipped overseas to turn it into recycled products, but that could change with a second bill signed into law. It provides $10 million-$20 million a year in incentives for manufacturers to recycle the plastic they collect in-state - 500 million pounds of plastic containers a year.
"Today, the plastic market program directly supports more than 750 jobs," says Assembly member Rich Gordon. "But we are collecting enough plastic to support four to five times that many jobs."
Oregon Reaches 50% Recycling Target
California's neighbor to the north is also achieving impressive recycling rates - its Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says the state recycled or recovered 50% of the waste in 2010. Not surprisingly, the Portland metro area recovered 57.9% of waste material, the best rate in the state.
2.1 million tons of materials were recycled, a 1.7% increase over 2009. As in most states, 39% of materials recovered were classified as organics, followed by paper (29%), metals (19%), glass (5%), plastic (2%), and electronics (1%).
"The size of Oregon's waste pile remained nearly constant, but recovery of materials rose while disposal fell," says Mary Lou Perry, DEQ solid waste specialist.
According to the DEQ report, energy savings for 2010 from recycling and recovery reached 32 trillion BTU, or about 3% of the state's total energy use, while greenhouse gas reductions amounted to three million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.
Here's the report: