Biomass Diversion Guidelines for Jurisdictions

Note: This page contains historical information from CalRecycle’s statewide goal measurement prior to 2007 that estimated a diversion percentage. For 2007 and subsequent years, CalRecycle’s compares reported disposal tons to population to calculate per capita disposal expressed in pounds/person/day. This new goal measurement system is described in CalRecycle’s Goal Measurement: 2007 and Later web page. Because the annual per capita disposal rate is based on disposal tons, any biomass will not be reported as disposal. In other words, there is no cap on the amount of material a jurisdiction can send to biomass. Therefore, sending material to biomass will help to reduce disposal. A Biomass Facility Diversion Claim Sheet is no longer required for submittal with the jurisdictional Annual Report.

The following guidelines identify the information a jurisdiction should submit to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to substantiate its biomass diversion claim for 2000 (and beyond), as well as other relevant biomass-related information.

Jurisdictions wanting to claim biomass diversion credit can use CalRecycle’s diversion rate calculator, located within the Electronic Annual Report, to determine the maximum allowable biomass tonnage, and to calculate their diversion rate including biomass. They may also contact their local assistance staff representative for assistance with claiming and calculating biomass diversion credit.

Data submittal requirements

Note: Per SB 1016, Wiggins, Chapter 343, Statutes of 2008 and AB 1126 (Chapter 411, Statutes of 2013, Gordon), completing the following requirements and Biomass Facility Diversion Claim Sheet are no longer applicable. Per SB 1016, the annual per capita disposal rate is based on disposal tons, so any biomass will not be reported as disposal, and Public Resources Code Section 41780.05 (c)(1)(c) states that “per capita disposal” does not include biomass material.

A jurisdiction must document that it, and the biomass facility it uses, meet the criteria for claiming biomass diversion each year the claim is being made. For clarity, the singular term “facility” is used to mean all biomass facilities used by a jurisdiction.

A jurisdiction should therefore submit all of the following information with the appropriate documentation attached.*

  1. Whether the jurisdiction is also claiming transformation diversion credit.
  2. Whether the material types sent to the biomass facility were normally disposed by the jurisdiction in 1990.
  3. Whether the jurisdiction is implementing, and will continue to effectively implement, all feasible source reduction, recycling, and composting programs.

* A jurisdiction can submit the necessary information using CalRecycle’s Biomass Facility Diversion Claim sheet with supporting documentation attached.

Restrictions for counting biomass as diversion

  1. A jurisdiction must provide CalRecycle with sufficient information to substantiate that it, and the biomass facility it uses, satisfy the statutory and regulatory requirements for biomass diversion cited above.
  2. The material sent to a biomass facility was normally disposed by the jurisdiction in 1990. “Normally disposed” means a material type was at least .001 percent of a jurisdiction’s total 1990 disposal at permitted solid waste landfills or transformation facilities [Title 14, California Code of Regulations, Article 3, section 18720 (a) (44)].
  3. Jurisdictions are limited to counting a maximum of 10 percent diversion from biomass conversion.
  4. A jurisdiction claiming diversion credit for biomass conversion cannot also claim diversion credit from CalRecycle-permitted transformation (waste-to-energy) facilities [PRC section 41783.1 (a) (5)] in the same report year. The three WTE facilities are: Covanta Stanislaus, Inc. in Stanislaus County (formerly known as Ogden-Martin Systems of Stanislaus, Inc.), and the Commerce Refuse-to-Energy Facility and Southeast Resource Recovery Facility in Los Angeles County.

Calculating biomass diversion credit

  1. A jurisdiction must calculate any biomass diversion credit each year that it claims biomass diversion. The amount of biomass diversion credit claimed will not be included in any newly established base year. For example, if a jurisdiction establishes a new base year in 2000, the amount of biomass diversion credit claimed in 2000 would not be included in the base-year generation amount on which the 2001 diversion rate would be based. Instead, it would just be an addition to the diversion rate for 2000 before including biomass diversion.
  2. Similarly, if a jurisdiction estimates its report year diversion rate using a waste generation study, the additional diversion credit for biomass diversion must be based on the report-year generation amount that excludes biomass tonnage.
  3. The maximum tonnage of biomass that can be claimed toward a jurisdiction’s diversion amount is based on its reporting year generation without biomass.
  4. The calculator in the Electronic Annual Report (EAR) can correctly determine a jurisdiction’s report-year generation, allows jurisdictions to enter biomass tonnage, and then calculates an estimated diversion rate including biomass. The EAR summary report lists estimated diversion rates with and without biomass diversion credit.
  5. Statute limits a jurisdiction’s biomass diversion credit to a maximum diversion percentage increase of 10 percentage points above a jurisdiction’s estimated report-year diversion rate excluding biomass. The diversion rate calculator in the Electronic Annual Report will not allow a jurisdiction to claim biomass tonnage greater than 10 percent of its report-year generation.
  6. It is because of this 10 percentage point limit and the need to show compliance with air quality standards each report year a claim is made that diversion credit for biomass diversion will not be included in a jurisdiction’s new base-year generation amount.

Notification of staff’s analysis of a biomass diversion claim

CalRecycle staff will conduct preliminary reviews of jurisdictions’ annual reports within 120 days of receipt to determine whether additional information is needed to complete their analysis and make recommendations. Jurisdictions requesting biomass diversion credit will have their claim acknowledged in the same notification letter sent by staff outlining what additional information, if any, is necessary to complete review of a jurisdiction’s annual report. The letter will include specifics about any missing documentation or information related to a biomass diversion claim.

Agenda items

PRC Section 41783.1 (a) (4) requires CalRecycle to make a determination at a public hearing, based on substantial evidence in the record, that a jurisdiction is and will continue to be effectively implementing all feasible source reduction, recycling, and composting measures to qualify for biomass diversion credit. Therefore, staff will  include a discussion of biomass diversion claims in all relevant agenda items.

Links to pertinent statutes and regulations

Local Government Library

For more information contact: Local Assistance & Market Development,