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Plastics Cleanup Costs

Summary of Existing & Projected Costs to Public Agencies in California to Clean-up and Mitigate the Environmental Impacts of Disposable Cups, Disposable Bags and other Litter

Current Projected Annual costs to Public Agencies for litter prevention, cleanup, and disposal:
$ 375.2 million

Total Projected Public Agency TMDL compliance costs (as identified to date):
$ 1.1 billion.

Disposal Costs:
Statewide disposal costs: $72 million per year. The state will spend in excess of $72 million annually to collect and dispose of disposable cups & bags. 520,000 tons of material landfilled (50 tons recycled) multiplied by statewide average collection and disposal cost of $140 per ton.

Litter Clean-up Costs:
Statewide - Beaches: $52.2 million per year: Clean-up costs vary depending on the amount of use, proximity to runoff sources, and terrain types. The City of Santa Monica spends $1.2 million for 3 miles of beachfront and Orange County spends about $350,000 for 6 miles of beachfront. The City of Long Beach estimated they spend more than $1 million annually on beach cleanup, but are attempting to get more precise data. Using the more conservative Orange County effort cleanup of Beaches alone would cost the full state $52,200,000 per year to cover 900 miles.

Statewide - Highways: $151.8 million per year: The CalTrans district responsible for San Leandro area freeways conducted an intensive litter clean-up program as a test of what effort would be necessary to keep highways clean on a weekly basis. To conduct weekly clean-ups for just 5 miles of highway cost $50,000 per year. California has 15,181.36 miles of highway (11,995.5 are freeway) which would cost $151,813,600 per year to cleanup.

Cities & Counties: $99.2 million per year: The City of Ventura is conducting a comprehensive litter cleanup and abatement program as a combined effort of their parks and roads departments. The City is spending $300,000 a year in addition to an aggressive volunteer program conjunction with Keep California Beautiful (KCB). Ventura's population is 102,574 and the city has approximately 21.41 square miles of territory. Ventura spends about $2.92 per person for litter cleanup or about $14,012 per square mile. The City of San Jose has estimated their litter clean-up costs as in excess of $1 million annually. California has a population of just over 34 million, extrapolating the Ventura data, total annual statewide litter cleanup would exceed $99,280,000 per year.

Projected Statewide TMDL Compliance Costs:
Urban Cities & Counties: $714 million The City of Los Angeles has estimated that it will have to spend an additional $125 million to comply with the more restrictive stormwater pollution discharge permits under the TMDL's for the Los Angels River and the Ballona Creek Watershed. The city has a population of 3,802,000 in 1,302,000 households and these costs equate to $32.87 per resident ($ 95.98 per household) in new spending. Other urban areas will have similar costs, rural areas and small cities will have significantly smaller expenditures as the TMDL's are implemented for their waterways, figures below are more accurate for these areas. It is estimated that about 70% of the state's population live in urban areas. Urban population is 23.8 million and cost per person would be $30.00 with a total of $714 million.

Rural Cities & Counties: $102 million: Stormwater Compliance Costs (not included with data above) In a review by CalEPA California Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region concluded that the cost to comply with the stormwater discharge permits imposed by the USEPA regulations to be approximately $10 to $12.50 per household. Rural and small cities population is 10.2 million and the cost per person would be $10 for a total cost of $102 million.

CalTrans: $300 million: In testimony to the legislature, CalTrans has estimated its costs to comply with the TMDL requirement to be in the $300 million dollar range. The current year budget includes $23 million for TMDL compliance.

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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We only love what we understand. We only understand what we are taught."
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