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FAQs

Q. What is “Zero Waste LA"?
A. Zero Waste LA is a new public private partnership that establishes a waste and recycling collection program for all commercial, industrial, and large multifamily customers in the City of Los Angeles. In April 2014, the Mayor and City Council approved the ordinance which allows LA Sanitation to establish the exclusive 11 service zone Zero Waste LA franchise system for the efficient collection and sustainable processing of waste and recyclables.

Q. Who will be served by Zero Waste LA?
A. Commercial and industrial businesses as well as large multifamily buildings with five or more attached units, including but not limited to:
  • Entertainment venues;
  • Healthcare facilities;
  • Hotels and motels;
  • Manufacturing facilities;
  • Retail stores;
  • Transportation services;
  • Wholesale operations; and
  • Other business and institutional locations.
Q. How does an exclusive franchise system like Zero Waste LA work?
A. The City will select a single franchise waste hauler as the primary operator within each of the exclusive 11 service zones. The franchise system allows the City to engage selected waste haulers through a franchise agreement by which they will be held accountable for a set of environmental, community, customer service, and rate standards. Under these franchise agreements, franchise waste hauler requirements will include:
  • Clean fuel low emission vehicles;
  • Efficient truck routing;
  • Enhanced recycling opportunities;
  • Improved transparency and customer service;
  • Transparent and predictable rates;
  • Reporting requirements; and
  • Other environmental protections.
Q. Will my service rates increase or decrease with the new franchise system?
A. Like exclusive franchise systems all over the state, Zero Waste LA will afford franchise waste haulers economies of scale, the ability to amortize capital costs, and reduce variable costs through operational efficiencies and synergies. This will help ensure that the prices for standard and special services will be provided clearly to customers with no hidden or undisclosed fees or surcharges. For Zero Waste LA franchise system customers, the rates will be transparent and predictable based upon the type of service chosen:
  • Container type;
  • Container quantity;
  • Frequency of collection; and
  • Special collection services.
Q. Can franchise waste haulers raise rates during the term of the agreement?
A. Zero Waste LA will establish rates that are codified in the franchise agreements and change predictably, which will allow customers to reliably budget for trash costs. Annual rate adjustments will be subject to the limits specified.

Q. When will Zero Waste LA be implemented?

A. Services are anticipated to begin in the summer of 2017, with the transition period taking about six months.

Q. Can customers maintain collection services with their current private waste hauler even if they are not chosen as a franchisee?
A. No. The franchise system requires that customers use the official franchise waste hauler designated for their service zone.

Q. What if I don’t want recycling or green waste collection services?
A. The State of California passed two laws requiring certain businesses and multifamily buildings subscribe to a recycling and organics waste diversion program. The franchise waste hauler and City will work with businesses identified for organics recycling to phase in service as well as to require recycling at customer sites.

Q. Why is the City making this transition?
A. The City is making this transition to meet its own zero waste goals as well as commercial and organics recycling mandates, and to provide comprehensive waste and recycling services for businesses and large multifamily buildings. More than 30 years after the launch of the City’s pilot residential recycling program in 1985, recycling services will now be offered to all businesses and large multifamily buildings with five or more units; the sustainable practices of waste reduction and recycling will be a citywide effort for the first time in its history. The adoption of the Zero Waste LA ordinance follows the completion of a multiyear development and environmental review process, including numerous stakeholder and community meetings.

Q. What are the goals of Zero Waste LA?
A. The ordinance includes environmental, community, and service goals for:
  • Citywide recycling rate at 90 percent by the year 2025;
  • Compliance with environmental regulations and mandates;
  • Decrease of food waste and increase in food rescue;
  • Franchise waste hauler accountability for outcomes and results;
  • Quality customer service standards;
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions; and
  • Transparent and predictable solid waste and recycling service rates.
Q. Will the franchise system be the same for the entire city?
A. Yes. The franchise agreement will include a list of standard services designed to best fit the overall needs of business and large multifamily customers. Customers may request special or additional services from the franchise waste hauler.

Q. What is the term of the Zero Waste LA franchise system agreement?

A. The initial term of the franchise agreement will be 10 years, with two additional 5 year extensions at the City’s sole option.

Q. Will the recyclables in the Blue Bin be the same between Zero Waste LA and other City recycling programs?
A. Yes, here is a complete listing:
  • Cardboard;
  • Cartons (refrigerated, shelf-stable, aseptic cartons for ice cream, juice, milk, and soup);
  • Glass;
  • Metals;
  • Paper; and
  • Plastics #1-7 including Styrofoam™ and other polystyrene products as well as film plastic (store bags, dry cleaning bags).
        Key recycling tips will also be the same and include:
  • Recyclables must be clean, dry, and empty;
  • No liquids, food, grease, organics, or dirt in or on recyclables; and
  • All waste has a place for proper disposal.
Q. Will the collection of food waste and organics be included in Zero Waste LA?
A. Existing food waste and organics programs will continue; the collection of organic waste such as food waste and landscaping green waste may be added upon request. Food waste and organic services for all customers will be phased in over time as facilities that recycle and process organics materials are built and become operational.

Q. How do I arrange for Zero Waste LA collection services?

A. The implementation of the franchise system will be as simple and seamless as possible, after you are notified of the implementation date and the official franchise waste hauler for your service zone. The steps include:
  • You contact the hauler for your service zone, and arrange for a site visit.
  • Your hauler will perform a waste assessment to right-size each Black (trash), Blue (recycling), and Green (organics) Bin to your specific needs and to help you recycle as much material as possible.
  • Your hauler will provide a specific service agreement for your approval.
  • Your hauler will bill you monthly.
  • Rates for basic and special services will not exceed those in the contract for each service zone.
  • All costs will be transparent and predictable, allowing customers to be certain they are getting what they pay for.
Q. Under Zero Waste LA what happens if I have a question or complaint about the trash collection services I receive?
A. The City will be the first point of contact for Zero Waste LA service related issues. Customers and residents can call the Citywide Service Directory at 3-1-1 or access the City’s MyLA311 app to place service requests.
  • To download the MyLA311 app for iPhone, visit: iTunes.
  • To download the MyLA311 app for Android, visit: Google Play.
Q. What waste collections services will not be included in Zero Waste LA franchise system?
A. Specialty waste materials not collected include:
  • Construction and demolition waste;
  • Hazardous waste (including electronic waste);
  • Medical waste;
  • Radioactive waste; and
  • Other specialty wastes such as Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG).
Q. Are franchise systems like Zero Waste LA common?
A. In the year 2014, 75 percent or 66 of Los Angeles County’s 88 cities and 91 percent or 31 of Orange County’s 34 cities have exclusive franchise systems. San Francisco, San Jose, Anaheim, and other cities throughout the state have made this transition – and they have done it for the reasons the City of Los Angeles will do it: to increase recycling, reduce street impacts, improve air quality, and provide fair rates and quality customer services.

Q. How were Zero Waste LA waste haulers selected?

A. Proposers have been selected through a competitive and open bidding process. Waste hauler proposals were extensively reviewed and evaluated based on their demonstrated ability to achieve the City’s goals of quality customer service, waste reduction, recycling, and diversion from landfills, less truck traffic and road impacts, clean air, and transparent rates. The criteria for selecting the best qualified waste hauler included:
  • Environmental record;
  • Experience;
  • Financial resources;
  • Price;
  • Procurement and contract or agreement disputes;
  • References;
  • Work plan; and
  • Viable ability to achieve the City’s goals.
Q. How will the City ensure Zero Waste LA customers receive quality services from the franchise waste hauler?
A. LA Sanitation will monitor compliance with the service standards prescribed by the franchise agreement and ensure customers receive quality service. Franchise waste haulers who fail to meet the standards may be assessed fines and in the worst case have their franchise agreement terminated by the City.

Q. Will I receive information on ways to recycle before the Zero Waste LA franchise system begins?

A. After the franchise agreements have been awarded, the City will provide official notification to all current private waste haulers and businesses with the implementation dates of the Zero Waste LA franchise system. LA Sanitation will launch an extensive outreach program including community meetings to explain how the franchise system will work, and provide recycling information. The City and your franchise waste hauler will also provide additional information through workshops and recycling events scheduled for your community during the transition period after the franchise system begins.

Q. How is Zero Waste LA helping develop the infrastructure needed to recycle organic waste such as food?
A. The agreements presented for consideration include more than $200 million to construct and/or expand infrastructure to recycle, compost and manage organics, and other Blue and Green Bin materials.

Q. Who will not transition into the Zero Waste LA franchise system?
A. Residents in single family homes and small multifamily buildings up to four units who receive waste and recycling services from LA Sanitation will not be affected by the Zero Waste LA franchise system.

Q. Will my ability to contract with a private waste hauler for construction, demolition or home repair be affected?

A. Construction and demolition materials are not included in the Zero Waste LA franchise system.

Q. Will all businesses and large multifamily customers receive recycling services?

A. All commercial and industrial businesses as well as large multifamily customers will have, at minimum, source separated recycling bins.

Q. How will Zero Waste LA clean up our air?

A. Under the current system, there may be multiple private waste haulers servicing adjacent businesses or multifamily complexes throughout the City. Under Zero Waste LA, each of the exclusive 11 service zones will be awarded to a franchise waste hauler that will service all business and large multifamily customers in that zone. The transition will streamline the collection process and make waste collection more efficient, because each collection zone will have trucks from only one franchise waste hauler. This will make truck routes more efficient and reduce the number of vehicles on city streets. The program will also require newer, clean fuel vehicles to reduce toxic air emissions.

Q. How do I get more information on the Zero Waste LA franchise system?
A. E-mail Zero Waste LA at zerowastela@lacity.org.