Universal Waste Systems is the designated trash hauler for Northeast L.A. under RecycLA.

The Garbage Wars in L.A. Are Not Over Yet

2020 Editions May More News

By Mary Lynch

The Apartment Owners Association has lost a round in its long fight to roll back RecycLA, the city’s garbage collection/recycling system for businesses and apartment buildings put in place in 2017. There is one more round to go.

The loss for the apartment owners came on April 3, when they dropped a lawsuit they filed in 2018 against trash haulers hired by the city under RecycLA. In the lawsuit, the apartment owners argued that the haulers were charging inflated fees. By withdrawing the lawsuit, they have essentially admitted that their argument doesn’t pass legal muster.

Universal Waste Systems, which has the RecycLA city contract for Northeast Los Angeles, was named in the apartment owners’ lawsuit, along with four other haulers operating under city contracts.

Another lawsuit, filed by the apartment owners in 2017 against the City of Los Angeles, is still working its way through the courts. In that lawsuit, the apartment owners argue that garbage collection fees under RecycLA are actually taxes and, as such, are illegal because the city did not seek voter approval before imposing them.

Carolin Shining, an attorney for the apartment owners, had no comment when the Boulevard Sentinel asked how and when the lawsuit against the city might be resolved. A spokesperson for the City Attorney’s office said they would not comment on ongoing litigation.

In the years it has taken for the apartment owners to get to this point, many of the initial complaints about RecycLA have been worked out. For example, distance fees for hauling bins from a property to the curb have been eliminated and over 9,000 customers have gotten credits for having paid them.

Those and other reforms to RecycLA have caused complaints to drop, from a high of 6,000 in December of 2017 to under 400 in March of 2020. In January of 2020, 17,000 tons of recyclables were collected under RecycLA, a measure of the program’s success in keeping garbage out of landfills.

RecycLA has changed but the apartment owners drive to get rid of it endures.


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