Summary of California Organics Diversion Legislation, 2011-2016
By Nick Lapis, Californians Against Waste, and Matt Cotton, Integrated Waste Management Consulting, LLC.
AB 341 (Chesbro, ‘11) — 75% by 2020
In part, AB 341 establishes a statewide “source reduction, recycling, and composting” target of 75% by the year 2020. This builds on the existing 50% mandate on local governments (AB 939) by setting a statewide goal and by moving away from previous “diversion” accounting. AB 341 isn’t specific to organic materials, but achieving the goal would be impossible without diverting a significant portion of the organics waste stream.
The state’s current recycling rate has hovered around 50% for several years, so achieving the AB 341 target means recovering an additional 23 million tons/year.
AB 1594 (Williams, ‘14) — Green Material ADC Diversion
AB 1594 phases out the practice of allowing the use of green material as landfill cover to count as being “diverted” from disposal. This eliminates a cheap outlet for this material that many believe has been a major barrier to the establishment of composting programs.
● Beginning August 2018, local jurisdictions must report to CalRecycle how they intend to recycle green material that was previously used as Alternative Daily Cover in order to comply with their diversion mandate.
● In 2020, green material that is used as ADC will no longer count towards a jurisdiction’s diversion mandate.
AB 1826 (Chesbro, ‘14) — Large Commercial Generators
AB 1826 requires large generators of organic materials to arrange for the collection and recycling of this material. It is phased in over time and is implemented independently by each jurisdiction.
● Generators must subscribe to an organics collection service, self-haul their organic materials, or recycle them onsite.
● Local governments are required to set up local programs that, at a minimum, involve education and outreach to affected businesses, as well as identification of the organics processing infrastructure necessary for compliance. Fines and penalties are not required for each jurisdiction.
● April 2016 — businesses that generate 8 or more cubic yards of organic materials per week (i.e. supermarkets, large venues, cafeterias, and food processors)
● January 2017 — businesses that generate 4 or more cubic yards of organic materials per week (i.e. smaller grocers and larger restaurants)
● January 2019 — businesses that generate 4 or more cubic yards of any solid waste per week (i.e. majority of restaurants and office buildings)
● In 2020 CalRecycle may expand the applicability to businesses that generate 2 or more cubic yards of any solid waste per week if the state has not succeeded in cutting organic waste disposal in half compared to 2014 levels.
Additional Information and Frequently Asked Questions:
AB 876 (McCarty, ‘15) — Organics Infrastructure Planning AB 876 requires counties to quantify the amount of organic waste that will be generated in the county over the next 15 year period and identify new or expanded organic material recycling facilities that will be able to handle this material.
The reports are due as part of a county or regional agency’s next annual report to CalRecycle after August 1, 2017.
AB 1045 (Irwin, ‘15) — Inter-agency Compost Workgroup AB 1045 directs the California EPA to work with CalRecycle, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Air Resources Board, and the Department of Food and Agriculture to “develop and implement policies to aid in diverting organic waste from landfills.” This cross-agency coordination is intended to ensure consistent policies for promoting composting and the use of compost across regulatory boundaries.
AB 1045 also sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 5 million metric tons per year through the application of compost, which is intended to increase demand for compost for “carbon farming” practices.
SB 1383 (Lara, ‘16) — Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
SB 1383 creates a framework for reducing the emissions of so called Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, potent greenhouse gasses that have an outsized impact on our climate. This includes methane emissions from landfills, and the bill establishes specific targets for organics diversion. It also grants CalRecycle the authority to adopt regulations to achieve these reductions.
Implementing SB 1383 will require the development of a comprehensive organic waste recovery infrastructure statewide, as well as a significant commitment to education and enforcement by local governments and waste haulers. While the details are still being developed, it is evident that this process will be more akin to AB 939, than to AB 341 and AB 1826 (which relied largely on generator mandates).
● 50% reduction in the disposal of organic waste by 2020 (compared to the amount of organic waste disposed in 2014)
● 75% reduction in the disposal of organic waste by 2025 (compared to the amount of organic waste disposed in 2014)
● 20% of edible food (that is currently disposed of) to be recovered for human consumption by 2025
● CalRecycle will adopt regulations to meet these goals by the end of 2019, but the regulations will not go into effect until 2022 to allow time to develop the necessary infrastructure.
● CalRecycle will assess the state’s progress towards meeting these goals in 2020 to ensure that we are on track to roll out the collection programs and infrastructure ahead of the 2022 mandate.
● Beginning 2024, the department and local governments can begin assessing penalties for non-compliance.
● Local governments are subject to fines (up to $10,000/day) for non-compliance with the requirements in the regulations.
Workshop Info and Listserv: www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Climate/SLCP
California Climate Investments (Infrastructure Funding)
The state’s climate change law (AB 32) generates significant revenue through the sale of CO2 “allowances.” This money is allocated annually, by the legislature, for programs that reduce greenhouse gases, and CalRecycle has been the recipient of some of this funding for organics infrastructure.
The amount of money available, and the distribution between programs, has fluctuated dramatically in the first three years of this program. The 2016-2017 budget for CalRecycle included the following programs:
● Organic Waste Recycling Grants: $24 million, split evenly between composting and anaerobic digestion, for organics infrastructure projects.
● Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grants: $5 million available for grants to foodrecovery organizations and projects that reduce food waste. $1 million of this will be set aside for small projects ($25k - $100k), and the rest will be available for large projects ($100k-$500k).
● Recycling / Organics Loans: $9 million available in a revolving loan fund, to be given out at a rate of 4.00%, for projects that recycle organic materials that were previously landfilled. In addition, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has received $7.5 million for a “Healthy Soils” program, which will be used to encourage farmers to adopt the use of sustainable agricultural practices, including the application of compost.
Grant and loan information/timelines: