Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that his Clean California Initiative, a program designed to remove litter, create jobs, and reinvigorate former dumping grounds, removed 12,700 tons of trash in it’s first year.
Newsom added that the Initiative, a multi-year program that cost taxpayers $1.1 billion, also funded 231 local trash reduction programs in underserved communities and hired 1,500 people in the past year. Projections show that cleanup efforts and hirings are to increase in the coming years, with the state hoping to beat their tonnage collection this year, which was noted in the press release to be as much as lining the entire coastline of the state with full black trash bags twice over.
In a press release, Newsom also highlighted graffiti removal projects, parklet creation, a growing adopt-a-highway program, and new dump day events that lead to a Caltrans increase of collected trash in 2020 with 267,000 cubic yards of trash to 2021’s total of 767,000 cubic yards.
“It’s simple: all Californians deserve clean streets. That’s why we’re cleaning up California like never before in our state’s history,” said Governor Newsom on Thursday. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done in just one year to make the Golden State a cleaner, safer place to call home – and we’re just getting started.”
Caltrans Director Tony Tavares, who helps oversee the initiative, added that “Clean California is helping communities throughout the state break the destructive cycle of litter and create public spaces we can all take pride in. Thanks to Governor Newsom’s vision, California is cleaner, communities are addressing blight, and hundreds more of our fellow Californians have dependable work. I cannot wait to see what we can accomplish together in Year 2.”
Governor Newsom’s Clean California Initiative
While the initiative, as well as advances in recycling, have been positive towards the cleanup in California, other areas are not so rosy. Solar panels, a key piece of the goal to have 100% carbon-free power by 2045, were recently found to have been filling landfills, as well as non-landfill locations, with toxic chemicals once out of commission across the state. The large amount of trash generated by the homeless across the state has also gone unaddressed by the initiative. With landfills and trash incinerators also facing closure or decommissioning, a number of issues are piling up that threaten to severely cut into the total cleanup amount in the coming years.
“I don’t think the state has a good handle on how trash collection and recycling work,” said Central California landfill and recycling center manager “Farrah” to the Globe on Thursday. “They are taking care of on the sides of roads and other places, which is honestly great. The price tag seems high, but they are getting results.”
“But they are only focusing on one area. Where do they think the trash goes after that? It needs to be processed by us. This is the end of it all. Recyclables see another day but a lot doesn’t. And we aren’t seeing any help coming wit the additional trash coming in.”
“So they are overburdening us and we have a growing need. The even larger problem is that they are just picking up and not going after the problem itself. You need to really hike up litter fines and patrols to stop people from putting trash in areas, but the state doesn’t. Also an issue is the homeless problem. They really trash the areas they are in and don’t throw anything away. Whenever encampments are cleaned up, do you really wonder why they treat it like a hazmat or Superfund site? It’s that bad, but instead of dealing with that, they are just all in on pick up. Some people fell that this would be an undue burden on the poorest citizens, but look at the cost of the Cleanup Initiative. It’s over a billion dollars. If you need to fine people way more for dumping and littering, taxpayers won’t have to cough up as much.”
“And, without that, it’s harder to convince people that Newsom and others aren’t just doing this for the photo ops.”
Further updates on the Clean California Initiative are expected later this year.