Compostable materials make up well over one-third of most jurisdictions’ waste streams. CalRecycle is encouraging the development of technologies that divert organic waste from landfills and comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32, Núñez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006) and AB 341 (Chesbro, Chapter 476, Statutes of 2011). AB 32 calls for the reduction of greenhouse gases and the use of low carbon fuels. Landfills are a significant source of greenhouse gases due to decomposition of organic material in landfills into methane. AB 341 takes a statewide approach to decreasing California’s reliance on landfills with an ambitious goal of 75 percent recycling, composting or source reduction of solid waste by 2020. An increased reliance on composting, chipping and grinding, and other compostable material processing operations is expected in order to meet State-mandated goals to divert organic materials from landfills and produce low carbon fuels.
To assist local enforcement agencies and facility operators with compostable materials management issues, CalRecycle developed resources for local enforcement agencies (LEA) and facility operators on compostable materials management. These include:
- Permitting: Requirements for permitting compostable materials and anaerobic digestion facilities and operations.
- Enforcement: Enforcement requirements at compostable materials facilities and operations.
- Statutes and Regulations: Statutory and regulatory citations related to composting.
- Operational Challenges (Odors, Emissions, Fires and Contamination): Information on odors and odor complaint investigations, emissions, fires and contamination/feedstock quality related to compostable materials handling.
- Responses to Operational Challenges: Some tools and best management practices to meet operational challenges, including Integrated Best Management Practices (based on C-CORP report), Operational Challenges/Concerns Assessment Procedure (OCAP), and odor impact minimization plans (OIMP).
- Community Outreach: Information on the process of building community support for the successful operation of a compostable material handling site.
- Resources: Resources related to composting, including links to air emissions, biosolids, food scrap composting, glossary of terms, research, water quality, etc.
Regulatory Changes: Compostable Materials Handling and In-Vessel Digestion
As part of regulatory review process, feedback was solicited on 14 compostable material handling issues and potential approaches for addressing these issues from 2011 to 2014. The formal rulemaking for the revision of existing Title 14 and Title 27 regulations was initiated on October 10, 2014 and the regulations will go into effect January 2016.
75 Percent Initiative
Moving organics out of the landfill is one of the top five focus areas for the statewide strategy to decrease reliance on landfills by composting and recycling 75 percent of solid waste by 2020 as called for by AB 341. Current initiatives, activities and workshops related to organics are summarized on this webpage.
Research on Air Emissions Reduction
Developing and effectively operating compost/AD infrastructure to meet GHG reduction goals requires new ways of managing organic materials. CalRecycle has partnered with composters, public agencies, the University of California, and industry associations as well as local air and water districts to sponsor various research projects related to emissions from organics facilities.
Grants and Loans for Organics Facilities
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) was established in 2012 and receives Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds appropriated by the Legislature and Governor for projects that support the goals of AB 32. CalRecycle established the GHG Reduction Grant and Loan Program to fund capital investments in anaerobic digesters and other facilities that will reduce GHG emissions by diverting organics from the landfill. A priority is to realize environmental and economic benefits in disadvantaged communities.
- Historical information from various contracts and research related to compostable materials and/or regulations during 1998-2007.
Guidance, Documents and Resources
CalRecycle staff developed an Organic Materials Management portal with tabs for compost, food, landscaping, technologies, and pests/threats. It also includes the Organics Toolbox which was developed as part of the Organics Policy Roadmap, and provides a clearinghouse of models from California cities and counties that are implementing programs related to compost, mulch, etc. and other organics management activities.
Other Guidance and Documents
- Comprehensive Compost Odor Response Project (C-CORP) Report (442-07-001). Final report from San Diego State University contract including published literature related to odor impacts, basic information on the science of composting and practical tools for conducting site assessments (2007).
- Mitigation Strategies to Control Odor. Summary of mitigation strategies for most types of odors excerpted from the C-CORP report.
- Operational Challenges/Concerns Assessment Procedure (OCAP)
- CalRecycle white papers 2009: