Mandatory Organics Recycling – AB 1826
Landfill waste produces a number of gases that can impair human health, including ammonia, sulfide, methane and carbon dioxide. While most landfills have systems in place to capture landfill gases, significant amounts continue to escape in the atmosphere. These gases, especially methane and carbon dioxide, also trap heat and contribute to local, state, and national problems associated with climate change. California disposes of approximately 30 million tons of waste in landfills each year, of which more than 30 percent could be used for compost or mulch. Mandatory recycling of organic waste is the next step toward achieving California’s aggressive recycling and greenhouse gas emission goals.
The City of South Pasadena, in conjunction with its trash hauler, Athens Services, has established an organic waste recycling program in compliance with Assembly Bill 1826 (AB 1826), which calls for mandatory commercial and multifamily organics recycling to be phased in starting April 1, 2016. This law requires local jurisdictions across the state to implement an organic waste recycling program to divert organic waste generated by businesses, and multifamily residential dwellings that consist of five or more units. At this time, Athens Services collects the organic waste and takes it to a composting facility called American Organics, where it is then returned to the community. The City will continue to research other methods of recycling its organic waste.
Businesses can meet the mandatory requirements through any of the following:
- Separate organic wastes and contract a waste recycling service to collect and recycle organics.
- Recycle organics on site, or haul organics off site for processing.
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:
- April 1, 2016 - generators of 8 cubic yards or more of organic waste per week
- January 1, 2017 – generators of 4 cubic yards or more of organic waste per week
- January 1, 2019 - generators of 4 cubic yards or more of solid waste per week
Organic Waste Defined
Organic waste, as defined in AB1826, 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.
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