Recycling Laws

California Recycling & Compost Laws

Rising levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are causing a climate crises. When short-lived climate pollutants like organic waste (food scraps, food-soiled-paper, and yard waste) end up in landfill, they break down anaerobically which generates methane, a greenhouse gas super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  Consumer goods and products are made from natural resources. Recycling helps conserve natural resources by reusing the resources that have already been mined like bauxite used to make aluminum products or harvested like trees used to make paper products. This is why it is essential that we all do our part to recycle the materials that can be recycled and to divert organics from landfill and instead made into soil amendments and or a renewable energy source.

California has passed several laws related to waste reduction, resource conservation and greenhouse gas emission reduction. Four laws in particular affect commercial businesses and multifamily dwellings with five (5) or more units: AB 341 Mandatory Commercial Recycling; AB 1826 Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling; AB 827; and SB 1383 Short-lived Climate Pollutants Reduction Strategy. Of these four laws, only SB 1383 also affects single-family residences.

 

 

California Organics Law

This law affects commercial businesses (including public entities), multifamily dwellings with five (5) or more units, and single-family residences.

 

Short Lived Climate Pollutants
Organics Recycling Law
SB 1383

The law was finalized and approved by the California Office of Administrative Law in 2020 and the regulations become effective January 1, 2022. On January 1, 2024 the regulations require local jurisdictions to impose penalties for noncompliance on regulated entities subject to their authority.

SB 1383 establishes targets to achieve a 75% reduction in the level of the statewide landfill disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2025. It mandates that cities/counties implement programs to divert organic waste from the landfill, develop and pass ordinances, and develop and implement enforcement mechanisms. SB 1383 also requires that 20% of edible food that would otherwise be sent to landfills, be recovered to feed people in need. It mandates municipalities, haulers, generators, and facilities to comply with the law. There are financial implications for haulers, jurisdictions, and facilities due to the increased monitoring and reporting required for compliance. Fines will be assessed for municipalities, haulers, generators, and facilities.

What do I need to do to comply with the law?
  • Arrange for organics service with Upper Valley Disposal & Recycling. This is the easiest and most often cost-effective way to comply with the law. Upper Valley offers two programs: compost and commercial food scraps.
  • Provide collection containers for recycling and organic material to customers and employees.
  • Provide education to employees and customers on proper sorting of recyclables and organic materials such as green waste, food scraps, and paper.
  • Keep materials free of contamination by monitoring containers and making sure employees are properly trained.
  • Recover edible food. See Edible Food Donation Requirements on this page.
Learn more about SB 1383

El Cerrito Edible Food Donations

SB 1383: Short Lived Climate Pollutants
Edible Food Donation Requirements

EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy

Certain entities that provide food are required to donate the maximum amount of excess edible food to feed people.

Tier 1 commercial entities are required to comply starting 1/1/2022

  • Supermarkets
  • Grocery stores (with a total facility size 10,000 square feet or more)
  • Food service providers (contracted)
  • Food distributors
  • Wholesale food vendors

Tier 2 commercial entities are required to comply starting 1/1/24

  • Restaurants (with 250 seats or more, or 5,000 square feet or more)
  • Hotels (with on-site food facility and 200 rooms or more)
  • Health facilities (with onsite food facility and 100 or more beds)
  • State agencies (with a cafeteria with 250 or more seats, or 5,000 square feet or more)
  • Local education agencies (with an onsite food facility)
  • Large venues and events
What do I need to do to comply with the law?

• A contract or written agreement must be maintained with food recovery service(s) or organization(s) to pick up or receive edible food. A record must also be kept indicating the types of food being donated, pounds donated per month, frequency of donations, and the contact information of the contracted food recovery service(s) and/ or organization(s).
• Large venues or large event operators that do not provide food services, but allow for food to be provided, shall require food facilities operating on site to comply with the above organics diversion and food recovery requirements
• Generators shall not intentionally spoil food that can be recovered.
• A model edible food recovery agreement can be found on CalRecycle’s website (scroll down to the “Model Tools” section)

ADD a list of food recovery services and organizations serving the City of El Cerrito

 

Commercial & Multifamily Recycling Laws

These laws affect commercial businesses (including public entities) and multifamily dwellings with five (5) or more units.

 

Mandatory Commercial Recycling
AB 341

Adopted into law in 2012, AB 341 originally required business (including public entities) that generate 4 cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week and multifamily residential dwelling of five units or more arrange for recycling services. In 2020, this threshold was decreased to 2 cubic yards.

What do I need to do to comply with the law?
  • Arrange for organics (green waste and food scraps) service with East Bay Sanitary. This is the easiest and most often cost-effective way to comply with the law.
  • Businesses may also self-haul materials in company owned vehicles to a facility that process the recyclable materials and sell them to markets or donate recyclable materials to an organization that will make sure they are recycled.
Learn more about AB 341

Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling
AB 1826

Adopted into law in 2016, AB 1826 requires businesses including multifamily dwellings to separate organic waste materials from garbage for composting, depending on the amount of waste they generate per week. Organic waste includes food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, clean wood waste and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste. Multifamily dwellings are only required to divert green waste, landscape and pruning waste, and clean wood waste.

What do I need to do to comply with the law?
  • Arrange for organics (green waste and food scraps) service with East Bay Sanitary. This is the easiest and most often cost-effective way to comply with the law.
  • Businesses may also self-haul materials in company owned vehicles to a facility that process the recyclable materials and sell them to markets or donate recyclable materials to an organization that will make sure they are recycled.
Learn more about AB 1826

Customer and Employee Access to Recycling Containers
AB 827

AB 827 (McCarty, 2019), amended two existing laws – AB 341 Mandatory Commercial Recycling and AB 1826 Mandatory Commercial Recycling Organics Recycling.

What do I need to do to comply with the law?

  • Recycling and/or organic recycling containers must be available for customers to use and must be located next to garbage containers.
  • Containers must be clearly labeled, color coded and easily accessible.

Full-service restaurants may be excluded from having containers available to customers as long as recycling and organics containers are available to employees to use.

Learn more about AB 827