Organics Waste Recycling (AB 1826)

Public Workshop: Get Ready for Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling

Presentation by Feeding America (PDF)

Food Waste Recovery Solutions (PDF)

Overview of Organics Waste Recycling (AB 1826)

Assembly Bill 1826 (AB 1826) was signed by California Governor, Jerry Brown, on September 28, 2014. It requires businesses that generate a specific amount of organic waste per week to arrange for recycling services for that waste according to a tiered implementation schedule. By January 1, 2016, local governments are required to implement an organic waste recycling program to divert organic waste generated by businesses, including multi-family residential dwellings that consists of five or more units, although multi-family dwellings are not required to have a food waste diversion program.

The City of Del Mar, in conjunction with its hauler, Waste Management, will identify the businesses that will be regulated within each tier; and perform outreach, education and monitoring. In addition, the City is also required to monitor activities to identify those not recycling and to inform them of the law and how to recycle organics in the jurisdiction.

By April 1, 2016, businesses with 8 cubic yard of organic waste must have an organics diversion program in place. These businesses will have to source separate organic waste from other kinds of waste and participate in a waste recycling service that includes collection and recycling or organic waste. The businesses would be required to recycle its organic waste on site or self-haul its organic waste off site for recycling service that may include mixed waste processing that specifically recycles organic waste. The businesses with 4 cubic yards of organic waste would be expected to start recycling on or after January 1, 2017 and so forth (Please look at the following table).

*At CalRecycle's discretion if organic waste has not been reduced to 50% of 2014 disposal levels.
On and After
Business that Generates per Week
Of Material
April 1, 2016
8 cubic yards or more Organic waste
January 1, 2017
4 cubic yards or more Organic waste
January 1, 2019 4 cubic yards or more Solid Waste
January 1, 2020* 2 cubic yards or more Solid Waste

History of AB 1826

The policy drivers for AB 1826 bill are 1989 legislation (AB 939) that mandated 50% minimum diversion; the 2012 legislation (AB 341) that mandated commercial recycling and set a 75% statewide waste diversion goals by 2020; and AB 32 that was an important driver towards the development of AB 1826 because it recognizes the significant contribution of decaying organic matter of greenhouse gas production and the environmental benefits from diverting this material from landfills. Methane has more than 20 times the global warning potential of carbon dioxide. Eliminating the greenhouse gas generation potential of solid waste is an important element of achieving a jurisdiction’s climate action plan greenhouse gas reduction goals.

What is organic waste?

Organic waste means food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, non-hazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste. This law will phase in the mandatory recycling of commercial organics over time, while 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.

A pie chart showing the composition of the Miramar Landfill.

Why organics?

Mandatory recycling of organic waste is the next step toward achieving California’s aggressive recycling and greenhouse gas emission goals. California disposes approximately 30 million tons of waste in landfills each year, of which more than 30 per cent could be used for compost and 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 emissions resulting from the decomposition of organic wastes in landfill 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 water sector and California’s GHG emission reduction goals, please see CalRecycle’s Climate Change page.

Relevant Sources

Links to additional information