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New LA Trash System to Deliver More Recycling and Composting

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The LA City Council has just now approved a new eco-conscious system of garbage collection at apartments and businesses that will probably also make trash collection much easier for everyone. As the system is now, landlords and business-owners pick and choose who will empty their bins,in an approximately $250-million market that sounds kind of thrilling when described by someone from the NRDC to the LA Times: "[it's] a kind of Wild West, race-to-the-bottom kind of system with very few standards and systems of accountability." (Don't flip out: buildings where trash is already collected by the city, such as single-family houses and apartments with fewer than four units, won't be affected by these changes.) Under the proposed model, LA would be cut into 11 "exclusive franchise" zones and companies would bid to be the only ones allowed to pick up the garbage from apartments and commercial properties in each of those areas.

At the baseline, bidders for the collection rights must provide recycling bins for customers, use environmentally-friendly collection trucks, and, at large apartment buildings, provide containers for compostable waste. (This is a huge step up from what often happens now at apartments and commercial sites, where people go through all the trouble of separating their recyclables only to find that they all end up in the same dumpster with everything else.)

Advocates for this new model say that it will help LA meet its goal of keeping 90 percent of its trash out of dumps, reduce the emissions from the current fleet of trash trucks driving all over the city, and improve conditions for garbage collectors. But "business groups" worry that the plan will create monopolies, drive out smaller garbage collection companies, and eventually lead to higher costs. Regardless, it's passed, and we could be seeing new bins and a lot more recycling by 2017.
· L.A. poised to OK sweeping overhaul of trash collection [LAT]