California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Toolkit


The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that public agencies in California evaluate, consider, and mitigate or avoid the environmental impacts of discretionary projects before they approve them or carry them out.

In most cases, the decision of a local jurisdiction to propose, and of CalRecycle to designate, renew or expand, a Recycling Market Development Zone (RMDZ) is a “project” subject to CEQA. This is because the Zone designation, renewal or expansion is a discretionary action that includes adoption of a recycling market development plan, the implementation of which may possibly have an adverse effect on the environment.

Therefore, when a local jurisdiction applies for a Zone designation to become part of the California RMDZ Program, it must complete all CEQA requirements associated with a discretionary project.

Complying With CEQA

Complying with CEQA can be a daunting prospect for a Zone administrator who is not familiar with the process. Zone administrators who wish to prepare their own CEQA documents have a wide variety of resources and publications that explain the CEQA process available to assist them.

Finally, CalRecycle’s Legal office and Local Assistance and Market Development staff can provide assistance and guidance.

City or county local planning departments, agencies, attorneys, or consultants may prepare CEQA documents. Zone administrators should review available local resources for CEQA preparation and compare the costs and timelines of those services. We have examples from Zone administrators that have worked closely with their local planning departments, as they are knowledgeable about the CEQA process, as well as local areas of concern or timeline issues. In-house collaboration on the preparation of the necessary CEQA documents can:

  • Greatly improve a Zone administrator’s confidence in having the documents prepared correctly.
  • Potentially reduce preparation costs.
  • Improve initial networking about the RMDZ program resources to other departments that might later be involved in reviewing CEQA associated with a specific project initiated through RMDZ marketing, incentive or loan activities.

CEQA Toolkit

CalRecycle staff has developed this toolkit as a general guide to assist Zone administrators comply with CEQA. However, this toolkit is simply an overview of the process, not a substitute for careful attention to the statutes and the CEQA Guidelines. We suggest that Zone administrators not familiar with CEQA obtain guidance and assistance from the environmental review staff of their own local governments, since those staff deal with CEQA on a regular basis. Many private consultants also provide CEQA assistance.

The following five-step guide will lead you through the basic CEQA process where you will find links to pertinent information, flowcharts, tips, checklists, examples, the State Clearinghouse (SCH), and necessary forms.

The CEQA Definitions will help with unusual words and usage. Also included are examples of a completed Zone expansion and designation package. Again, if you have any questions along the way, our Local Assistance and Market Development staff, with assistance from our Legal office, can help find the answers.

For more information contact: Zone Assistance Regional Zone Contacts,