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California's New Laws Aim to Push Organics Recycling Forward

Five laws have taken effect in California in 2016 to further organic waste management and recycling.

Those laws involve mandatory commercial organics recycling, tax exemptions for recycling and composting equipment, detailing organics infrastructure, recycling and composting reporting requirements and composting promotion, according to a release from CalRecycle, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.

"These new laws encourage innovation and strengthen California’s role as the nationwide leader in sustainable living," CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “Not only will this effort create new jobs, but it will reduce the amount of readily recyclable materials and organic waste that get sent to landfills and turn these valuable materials into new products, compost, fertilizers and biofuels instead."

AB 1826 (2014) calls for businesses that generate at least eight cubic yards of organic waste per week to arrange for the recycling of that waste, beginning in April. On Jan. 1 local jurisdictions began implementing organic waste recycling programs to divert organic waste generated by businesses.

AB 199 (2015) provides for tax exemptions for businesses purchasing recycling and composting equipment. It also expands the tax exclusion that uses recycled feedstock to make new products.

AB 876 (2015) requires jurisdictions to report estimated additional organics infrastructure required and locations for new/expanded infrastructure. The local counties and regional agencies also have to estimate the amount of organic waste during a 15-year period.

AB 901 (2015) provides CalRecycle with enforcement authority for existing disposal reporting requirements, and it updates reporting requirements for recycling, composting and solid waste disposal facilities. It will help CalRecycle accurately measure progress toward the state’s 75-percent recycling goal.

Finally, AB 1045 (2015) requires CalRecycle and other state agencies to develop and implement polices that keep organic waste out of landfills. They also must promote composting and alternative uses for the material.

These pending laws and previous aggressive legislation in the state have helped prompt steady construction in the organics management field. In November Agromin opened an organics recycling facility in Chino to turn green waste into organic compost. Oxnard, Calif.-based Agromin is aiming to produce 50,000 tons of 100-percent organic compost annually at the location.

Meanwhile, California’s Alameda County has begun fining businesses and multifamily property owners in violation of the county’s mandatory recycling ordinance. The Oakland-based Alameda County Waste Management Authority said in November it has issued more than 100 citations and expects more as routine inspections continue.

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