Mike Rogge

New commercial organics recycling law goes into effect next year

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, June 12, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

With the passage of AB 1826 (Chesbro, Chapter 727, Statutes of 2014), new organics recycling requirements will be phased in over several years to help the state meet its goal of recycling 75 percent of its waste by 2020. AB 1826 requires businesses, including public entities, 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,” CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen said. “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.”

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; and
  • 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 8 or more cubic yards of organic waste per week – April 1, 2016;
  • Generators of 4 or more cubic yards of organic waste per week – January 1, 2017;
  • Generators of 4 or more cubic yards of solid waste per week – January 1, 2019; and
  • Generators of 2 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; and/or
  • 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.

Recycling Resources

Please see CalRecycle’s Mandatory Commercial Organics Recyclingwebpage for more information, including examples of businesses that are recycling organics.

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