Local Government Requirements and Resources

A jurisdiction’s organic waste recycling program targeted to commercial organic waste generators may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following key elements:

  • Implementing a mandatory commercial organic waste recycling policy or ordinance.
  • Enforcement provisions, including a structure for fines and penalties.
  • Requiring a mandatory organic recycling program through a franchise contract or agreement.
  • A requirement that organic waste go through a source-separated or mixed-processing system that diverts organic waste from disposal.
  • Certification requirements for self-haulers.
  • Charging and collecting fees from organic waste generators to recover the jurisdictions’ cost complying with the law.
  • Implementation or enforcement of organic waste recycling requirements that are more stringent or comprehensive than the minimum requirements outlined here.

The law also requires that each jurisdiction’s program contain certain common elements. These requirements are applicable whether or not the jurisdiction meets its 50 percent per capita disposal target:

  • Identifying the businesses that meet the applicable thresholds.
  • Conducting annual education and outreach to inform businesses about the law and how to recycle organics in the jurisdiction. Jurisdictions can build their education, outreach and monitoring activities into the activities that they are doing to implement the Mandatory Commercial Recycling law. A jurisdiction could incorporate information about how to recycle organics into its existing education/outreach activities via its electronic tools, e.g., the jurisdiction’s and the hauler’s websites; written materials, e.g., a brochure; and direct contact with businesses, e.g., on waste assessments or presentations to business organizations.
  • Implementing annual monitoring activities to identify those not recycling and to inform them of the law and how to recycle organics in the jurisdiction. Jurisdictions can build on their monitoring activities for Mandatory Commercial Recycling. For example, the hauler may be responsible for identifying those not recycling organics and the jurisdiction may contact those not recycling organics via a letter, phone call, and/or site visit.

Note: The authority of a local governmental agency to adopt, implement, or enforce a local organic waste recycling requirement, or impose a condition upon a self-hauler, that is more stringent or comprehensive than the requirements of this law is not limited. Additionally, the following are not modified, limited, or abrogated in any manner by this law:

  • A franchise granted or extended by a city, county, city and county, or other local governmental agency.
  • A contract, license, or permit to collect solid waste previously granted or extended by a city, county, city or county, or other local governmental agency.
  • The existing right of a business to sell or donate its recyclable organic waste materials.
  • The authority of a local jurisdiction with respect to land use, zoning, or facility siting decisions by or within that local jurisdiction.


On a case-by-case basis, a jurisdiction may exempt individual businesses from the organic waste recycling requirements. Jurisdictions must include their rationale for allowing exemptions in the electronic annual report (EAR) they submit to CalRecycle. These exemptions under AB 1826 are in effect until Jan. 1, 2022, with one exception. The law contains a 2020 trigger that further increased the scope of affected businesses. As such, in September of 2020, CalRecycle reduced the threshold to 2 cubic yards of solid waste (solid waste is the total of trash, recycling, and organics) generated by covered businesses. This determination also further disallowed the future use of the exemption under 42649.82 (e)(3)(E) related to businesses that generate one cubic yard or less of organic waste.

After Jan. 1, 2022, the de minimis threshold and physical space waivers in Section 18984.11 under the SB 1383 regulations would be in place and the exemptions under AB 1826 would no longer apply, unless the regulated business is located in a jurisdiction that has a low population, elevation or rural waiver (see Section 18984.12 of the SB 1383 draft regulations for more information about low population, elevation and rural waivers). Note — If the regulated business is located in a low population or rural area that has a waiver, then the existing exemptions under AB 1826 can still be applied with the exception of PRC Section 42649.82 (e )(3)(E) that will end as noted above. Reasons for exemptions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Lack of sufficient space in multifamily complexes or businesses to provide additional organic material recycling bins.
  • Existing business actions that result in the recycling of a significant portion of its organic waste.
  • Generation by the business or group of less than one-half of a cubic yard of organic waste per week.
  • Extraordinary and unforeseen events (limited-term exemptions).

Rural Exemptions

Exemptions are allowed for jurisdictions that are located entirely within a rural county or counties. A rural county is one with a population of less than 70,000. A rural jurisdiction, e.g., county, city, or regional agency, can submit a resolution to CalRecycle exempting themselves and the businesses that operate in the region from the mandatory organic recycling requirements. Jurisdictions wishing to be exempt from implementation of the law on January 1, 2016, submitted a related resolution to CalRecycle prior to June 30, 2015.

CalRecycle has determined the relative impact by rural jurisdictions on statewide disposal is approximately one percent of the statewide organic waste disposal, which is not significant. Therefore, CalRecycle will extend the current AB 1826 rural exemption until December 31, 2026. This extension also aligns with the provisions regarding rural exemptions contained in Section 18984.12(c) of the proposed SB 1383 regulations.


Beginning with the submission of the 2016 Electronic Annual Report (EAR), which is due August 2017, to CalRecycle (and covers calendar year 2016 recycling activities and programs), jurisdictions will be required to report on progress on the implementation of the organic waste recycling program. Each jurisdiction’s annual report must include the following information in the 2016 EAR and subsequent EARs:

  • Existing local organic waste recycling facilities and the respective capacities available for materials to be accepted.
  • Existing solid waste and organic waste recycling facilities within the jurisdiction that may be suitable for potential expansion or co-location of organic waste processing or recycling facilities.
  • Efforts underway to develop new private or public regional organic waste recycling facilities that may serve some or all of the organic waste recycling needs of the commercial waste generators within the jurisdiction, and the anticipated timeframe for completion of those facilities.
    • Closed or abandoned sites that might be available for new organic waste recycling facilities.
    • Other nondisposal opportunities and markets.
    • Appropriate zoning and permit requirements to site new organic waste recycling facilities.
    • Incentives available, if any, for developing new organic waste recycling facilities within the jurisdiction.
    • Barriers to siting new or expanded composting, anaerobic digestion and chip and grind facilities and a plan to remedy those barriers that are within the control of the local jurisdiction.
  • Report on the identification, education, outreach, and monitoring activities, including the number of businesses that are not recycling organics and what was done to inform them of the law. Providing tonnage on the amount of material that is recycled is optional.
  • Rationale for allowing exemptions, and, if applicable, report on enforcement efforts.
    • Exemptions noted in the law include:
      • Lack of sufficient space to provide additional bins,
      • Current business practices already result in a significant reduction in its organic waste,
      • The business does not generate at least one-half cubic yard of organic waste per week, and
      • Extraordinary and unforeseen events (limited-term exemptions).

Related Resources

  • Education/Outreach Tools. CalRecycle has developed several customizable materials, including PSAs, a promotional kit, and a brochure, that local jurisdictions can use as education and outreach tools.
  • AB 876 Guidance and CalculatorCalRecycle created guidance and a calculator to assist jurisdictions with compostable organics diversion planning. AB 876 requires a county or regional agency to provide an estimate of organics generated and diversion capacity needed over a 15-year period. Jurisdictions and counties will report to CalRecycle on their progress in implementing an organic waste recycling program, estimates of organic waste disposed, needed capacity to divert organics, and planning to develop this infrastructure through the Electronic Annual Report (EAR) beginning with the 2016 report (due in August 2017).
  • Potential Funding Support for Food Banks. Expanding California Food Banks’ food rescue operations would be beneficial to California for a number of reasons:
  • California food banks will play a key role in helping California to achieve its 75 percent goal and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while addressing food insecurity.
    • There are significant greenhouse gas emission reductions realized when food is rescued instead of disposed.
    • In California, 1 in 4 children face hunger every day.
  • Expanding food banks can create jobs and support businesses because rescuing food can reduce a business’ solid waste disposal costs.
  • Californians throw away nearly 6 million tons of food scraps or food waste each year. This represents about 18 percent of all the material that goes to landfills. More resources on edible food recovery and preventing food from reaching the landfill.
  • For information about California food banks visit: http://www.cafoodbanks.org.
  • Green Material Used as Alternative Daily Cover (ADC)–AB 1594. As of January 1, 2020, the use of green material as alternative daily cover (ADC) will no longer constitute diversion through recycling and will instead be considered disposal in terms of measuring a jurisdiction’s annual 50 percent per capita disposal rate. This page outlines key elements of the law, FAQs, and additional references and resources.
  • Updated Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan (CIWMP) Enforcement Policy Part II: This section includes a document titled “Failure to Implement a SRRE and HHWE, Including Failure to Implement MCR, MORe, and AB 1594.”
  • The Institute for Local Government’s (ILG) Recycling Resource Center offers useful resources and tools related to the funding and financing as well as the planning and siting of local recycling infrastructure. This resource center also features a section devoted to commercial recycling.
  • CalRecycle’s Local Jurisdiction Resource Library includes ordinances, resolutions and policies for local government. There are examples of landfill bans, recycling ordinances and space allocations.