Mandatory Organics Recycling - AB 1826
The mandatory Commercial Organic Waste Recycling Law - AB 1826 became effective on January 1, 2016 and requires businesses and multi-family complexes (with 5 or more units) that generate specified amounts of organic waste (compost) to arrange for organics collection services. This includes schools, hospitals, stores, restaurants, for-profit or nonprofit organizations, as well as residential dwellings with 5+ units.
In October of 2014 Governor Brown signed AB 1826 Chesbro (Chapter 727, Statutes of 2014), requiring businesses to recycle their organic waste on and after April 1, 2016, depending on the amount of waste they generate per week. This law also requires that on and after January 1, 2016, local jurisdictions across the state implement an organic waste recycling program to divert organic waste generated by businesses, including multifamily residential dwellings that consist of five or more units (please note, however, that multifamily dwellings are not required to have a food waste diversion program). Organic waste (also referred to as organics throughout this resource) means food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste. This law phases in the mandatory recycling of commercial organics over time, while also offering an exemption process for rural counties. In particular, the minimum threshold of organic waste generation by businesses decreases over time, which means that an increasingly greater proportion of the commercial sector will be required to comply.
Mandatory recycling of organic waste is the next step toward achieving California’s aggressive recycling and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals. California disposes approximately 30 million tons of waste in landfills each year, of which more than 30 percent could be used for compost or mulch.
Organic waste such as green materials and food materials are recyclable through composting and mulching, and through anaerobic digestion, which can produce renewable energy and fuel. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from the decomposition of organic wastes in landfills have been identified as a significant source of emissions contributing to global climate change.
Reducing the amount of organic materials sent to landfills and increasing the production of compost and mulch are part of the AB 32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) Scoping Plan. For more information on the connection between the waste sector and California’s GHG emission reduction goals, please see CalRecycle’s Climate Change page.
Organic waste, as defined in AB 1826, means food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste. These categories represent the largest subsets of organic waste that is currently disposed of in California.
Implementation Dates / Timeline:
This law phases in the mandatory recycling of commercial organics over time, with the minimum threshold of organic waste generation decreasing over time. The organic recycling mandates are triggered by timelines and quantities. Here are the start dates:
- January 1, 2016: On and after this date, local jurisdictions shall implement an organic waste recycling program in place. Jurisdictions shall identify regulated businesses and conduct outreach and education to inform those businesses how to recycle organic waste in the jurisdiction, and monitor to identify those not recycling and inform them of the law and how to recycle organic waste.
- April 1, 2016: Businesses that generate 8 cubic yards of organic waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
- January 1, 2017: Businesses that generate 4 cubic yards of organic waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
- August 1, 2017 (ongoing): Jurisdictions shall provide information about their organic waste recycling program implementation in the annual report submitted to CalRecycle.
- Fall 2018: After receipt of the 2017 annual reports submitted on August 1, 2018, CalRecycle shall conduct its formal review of those jurisdictions that are on a two-year review cycle.
- January 1, 2019: Businesses that generate 4 cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
- Fall 2020: After receipt of the 2019 annual reports submitted on August 1, 2020, CalRecycle shall conduct its formal review of all jurisdictions.
- Note: CalRecycle shall continue to conduct the two- and four-year reviews after this cycle.
- Summer/Fall 2021: If CalRecycle determines that the statewide disposal of organic waste in 2020 has not been reduced by 50 percent of the level of disposal during 2014, the organic recycling requirements on businesses will expand to cover businesses that generate 2 cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week. Additionally, certain exemptions may no longer be available if this target is not met.
What can your business do to meet mandatory requirements?
Contact the City of La Palma's Recycle Coordinator at (714) 690-3310 to discuss organics collection at your business.
Waste Not OC
Hunger is not new, but what is new is our ability to work together to end it in Orange County. The Waste Not OC Coalition (WNOC) is a public/private partnership of the OC Health Care Agency, restaurants, food banks, and community leaders working together to facilitate the donation and distribution of surplus food to the needy. Through Waste Not OC, non-residential food waste is picked up and donated to those in need. All that is required is that the donated food is handled and stored in a safe, sanitary manner, and maintained in the same manner as food sold to your customers. For more information please visit: www.wastenotoc.org.
Second Harvest Food Bank
Donating edible food is a good way to demonstrate that you’re a money-wise and caring member of the community. In Orange County, food donation can also be achieved by contacting the Second Harvest Food Bank at: www.feedoc.org.
For more information on food recycling for restaurants please visit: https://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Organics/Food/Restaurants/.
CalRecycle Outreach Resources
A Guide to Conducting and Analyzing a Food Waste Assessment (EPA)
Reducing Waste Food & Packaging - A Guide for Food Services and Restaurants (EPA)