AB 1826 (Chesbro, Chapter 727, Statutes of 2014), which was signed in October 2014, requires businesses to recycle their organic waste on and after April 1, 2016, depending on the amount of waste they generate per week.
"The new organics recycling law is an incremental addition to the commercial recycling law that passed in 2011, but it will significantly improve the environmental health of the state," said CalRecycle's Caroll Mortensen. "About a third of the waste in our landfills is organic material, which is a shame not only because it generates greenhouse gases there, but also because disposed organics are easily recycled and a ready source of compost, mulch and renewable energy."
Businesses, including public entities, are required to recycle their organic waste on and after April 1, 2016, depending on the amount of waste they generate per week.
Organics recycling services often accept a wide variety of organic waste. The law requires that businesses arrange for recycling services for the following types of organic waste:
- Food waste
- Green waste
- Landscape and pruning waste
- Nonhazardous wood waste
- Food-soiled paper
Multifamily complexes of five units or more must arrange for recycling services for the same material with the exception of food waste and food-soiled paper.
Who must comply
The new law states that businesses and multifamily complexes must start recycling organic waste by the following dates:
- Generators of eight or more cubic yards of organic waste per week - April 1, 2016
- Generators of four or more cubic yards of organic waste per week - January 1, 2017
- Generators of four or more cubic yards of solid waste per week - January 1, 2019
- Generators of two or more cubic yards of solid waste per week, if statewide disposal of organic waste is not decreased by half - January 1, 2020
By January 1, 2016 all jurisdictions must have organic recycling options in place for businesses and multifamily complexes, and they must conduct outreach and education to those businesses about their organics recycling options. The jurisdictions must subsequently monitor implementation.
How to comply
Businesses can comply with the new requirements by taking one or any combination of the following actions, provided that the action is in compliance with their local ordinances and requirements:
- Source-separate organic waste from other waste and subscribe to an organic waste recycling service that specifically includes collection and recycling of organic waste
- Recycle organic waste onsite or self-haul for organics recycling
- Subscribe to an organic waste recycling service that includes mixed-waste processing that specifically recycles organic waste
- Sell or donate the generated organic waste
Recycling benefits identified by CalRecycle include:
- Opportunities for businesses or multifamily complexes to save money
- Creating jobs in California by providing materials for recycling manufacturing facilities
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Keeping valuable materials out of landfills
- Creating a healthy environment for the community and future generations by recovering natural resources
Please see CalRecycle's "Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling" webpage for more information, including examples of businesses that are recycling organics. An FAQ is also available, featuring a list of mandatory commercial organics recycling questions and answers developed in response to stakeholder inquiries. CalRecycle staff and local jurisdiction contacts can be found here.