Frequently Asked Questions

General Information about the Recycling Market Development Zone Program

How do I go about applying to become an RMDZ?

14 CCR § 17902 states:

(a) By March 31 of each year, if and when the Board determines a need for additional zones, it will evaluate the maximum number of new Recycling Market Development Zones to be designated and initiate a new cycle. The Board will identify the statewide recycling market development objectives for the designation cycle. These are described in Section 17909.

(b) Within 120 calendar days of the action taken in (a) above, the Board will mail a notice to all who have made a written request to receive notification, announcing the date when a Recycling Market Development Zone designation cycle will begin. The notice will state the number of the Zones the Board will designate during the designation cycle and will list the statewide recycling market development objectives and their priority of importance.

What is market development of recyclables?

Market development is the creation and development of markets for products made in part from postconsumer waste materials diverted from the waste stream. When these diverted materials are used to produce new products, the products are referred to as recycled-content products.

Why is market development for recyclables important?

As California’s population grows, so will the estimated 87 million tons of waste generated each year. One way California can manage this waste is by manufacturing quality products out of these materials…before they reach the landfill.

What other benefits can we foresee from market development of recycled materials?

If CalRecycle is to meet its goal of 75% Recycling by the year 2020, it is estimated that up to 22 million tons of additional recyclable materials will need to be diverted. An estimated 44,000 jobs could be created in California’s manufacturing sector, plus another 55,000 jobs in sorting and processing, and tens of thousands more in ancillary jobs. In 2015, The Institute for Local Government (ILG), under contract with CalRecycle, helped develop Connecting the Dots: Recycling, Climate and Economic Development that offers an explanation of the connections between recycling, climate and economic development. Increasing recycling can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and creating the facilities for that recycling and use of recycling materials will promote economic development. Please see Creating New Jobs through Increased Recycling, Processing and Remanufacturing. April 16, 2013 presentation that reviewed prior state, regional and national studies to forecast future California jobs for more information.

What incentives are local communities providing to businesses?

Check RMDZ Zone Profile pages to see what each local community offers recycling manufacturers as incentives.

Information about the Zone Loan Process

Are there barriers to developing markets for recycled materials?

Financial barriers (e.g., difficulties businesses face in obtaining long-term credit): The RMDZ loan program was designed to address the financial barriers by providing low-cost, long-term financing.

What is the status of permits required for a loan?

Some permits that are usually required include Conditional Use Permits, zoning, a valid business license, fire permit, status of incorporation, etc. You can always check the CalGold website or look at Senate Bill 390. Loan staff will review and make recommendations as to which permits might be required; however, the final authority on this issue will be each applicant’s governing authority and/or legal counsel.

When does the loan have to be repaid, what are the loan repayment terms?

Up to 10 years if secured by business assets, up to 15 years when wholly or partly secured by real estate.

Why is the loan program so important to recycling businesses?

Many conventional lenders hesitate to fund recycling-based manufacturing because, in their view, it involves unproven technologies. Although the RMDZ loan program requires the same types of security collateral as a conventional lender, familiarity with the industry enables CalRecycle to finance new, yet promising, recycling technologies. More RMDZ loan information…

How has the RMDZ program helped other businesses?

For examples of what other businesses have done with help from this program, see the business profiles.

Does my business reside in a qualifying area of California?

To find out, conduct a search of your address.

Does CalRecycle have grant funding for other market development practices to encourage waste reduction?

Yes, CalRecycle offers a variety of competitive and non-competitive grants throughout the year. Eligible applicants often partner with businesses, nonprofits, and governmental agencies to carry out the reuse project.

What about educational research institutes in your area that may have done research that can provide information on grants?

We encourage ZAs to use local business, nonprofit, and educational institutions that conduct research regarding recycled-content product development and marketing. We expect applicant to be well versed in any (waste/recycling) data or research that has been done in their area. Market assessment, waste flow, and product development studies or analyses available to support your application should be included. However, remember links are appreciated to conserve paper.

Information about the Zone Designation and Expansion Process

If an existing zone expands to include another county, is that a new application of the ten or just a revision?

You do not need the Designation Application for an expansion. Expanding a current zone is different from designating a new zone. The process for expansion is less arduous than designation, but is a separate process. (Please see this web link relating to the zone redesignation-expansion process, beginning with Section 17914: Title 14, Natural Resource-Division 7, Chapter 4. Resource Conservation Programs, Article 1. Recycling Market Development Zone Designation Process.

Where do we find zones that are expiring? How long is a zone designation?

We can provide that information upon request. A zone is designated for 10 years. Some of the Zone have recently redesignated, some may be redesignating in the future, but each is on a different schedule.

If a county was previously in a zone, is it a problem for forming a new zone?

It would not be a problem. However, if your jurisdiction is near an existing zone, we would encourage you to check into the possibilities of joining with that zone via the expansion process. Also, we encourage jurisdictions that were formerly part of an existing zone to rejoin the zone they left.

Can a Regional Agency be an applicant or only counties and cities?

Yes, Regional Agencies can become a zone.

Can the applicant be a non-government entity like a nonprofit economic development corporation?

Yes. According to PRC Section 42012, “The local governing body, or any person through the local governing body, may apply to CalRecycle for designation as a recycling market development zone.”

If the county has no industrial zoning for siting manufacturing, how would the county lead in creating a regional zone and act as administrator?

We would recommend meeting with the jurisdictions that have the appropriate zoning and volunteer to be the Zone Administrator. It would be up to you to make a case for your county being the lead.

Does the Zone Administrators have to be a local government staff person?

Zone administrators do not have to be a government staff person.

For existing Zone Administrators, what percentage of their time do they spend working the program?

There is no clear-cut formula to determine how much time ZAs need to spend on their Zone Programs. However, the amount of staff time devoted to administering a zone is generally directly related to how successful a program will be. Therefore, ZAs should consider spending at least one-third to one-half of their annual hours on their Zone.

Does a ZA have to dedicate a fulltime staff person or can it be part-timer? Any staffing criteria? Team of people?

A Zone Administrator can be part-time. As far as staffing criteria, it really depends on the particulars of a Zone. Large urban zones may require a full-time ZA plus a team of available staff from a number of disciplines. A smaller rural zone might need just a part-time ZA and other staff that can help out as needed. The important thing to remember is that when completing the application you are able to convince us that what you’re proposing is a sustainable staffing option.

Is a full-time position a requirement for Zone Administrator?

As described above, a full-time position is not required. Nevertheless, each Zone must identify one person as the official Zone Administrator. Again, multiple people could handle the different tasks of a ZA. From our observations, zones that have a full-time position for a ZA are generally more successful.

Will designated rural areas be given special consideration compared to urban areas when looking at transportation and distance to markets?

There is nothing specific in the criteria giving rural areas special consideration. However, if a rural applicant shows the issues and how they will overcome them and demonstrates that a zone in their particular rural area can fill in a statewide gap, we will take that into consideration.

Are there requirements for individual cities to become a zone, such as population or businesses located in an area?

There are no specific requirements regarding population, but a zone should be large enough to be sustainable. Additionally, there must be appropriate zoning and an existing postconsumer collection infrastructure as stated in PRC Section 42002 (d) above.

If a jurisdiction wanted to join an existing zone or rejoin a zone, is the designation cycle the time to do it?

No. joining or rejoining an existing zone is an expansion. There is no set time period for a zone expanding. The 2017 Designation cycle is for only those jurisdiction or local agencies that want to become a new zone (not part of the 38 existing zones).

Do you have available promotional materials on the RMDZ program (i.e. folder w/ info) that we can use to get our stakeholders on board and get local approval to apply for a zone?

There are general promotional materials for Zone advertising that can be customized for the local area. Also, we are currently working on new promotional materials that can be used by Zone Administrators.

Is there a limit on how many jurisdictions can be part of a multijurisdictional zone?

No. However, jurisdictions must have some type of connection as identified in Public Resources Code (PRC) below. PRC Section 42002 (d) “Recycling market development zone” or “zone” means any single or joint, contiguous parcels of property that, based on the determination of CalRecycle, meets the following criteria:

(1) The area has been zoned an appropriate land use for the development of commercial, industrial, or manufacturing purposes.

(2) The area is identified in the countywide or regional agency integrated waste management plan as part of the market development area.

(3) The area is located in a city with an existing postconsumer waste collection infrastructure.

(4) The area may be used to establish commercial, manufacturing, or industrial processes which would produce end products that consist of not less than 50 percent recycled materials.

Note: Separately identified (nonadjacent) parcels of land within the jurisdiction or in other jurisdictions participating in the zone can be designated if they are connected by major transportation corridors, e.g., main highways or rail lines.

Can you elaborate on the requirements for the zone participants in a zone that contains multiple jurisdictions? For example, if a joint powers authority (JPA) were to apply for a countywide zone, would a statement be required from each city in the county and the unincorporated county?

There is no “one size fits all” to this question. It depends on how the JPA agreement is written. In some agreements, the JPA has been granted broad authority to act on behalf of member jurisdictions in all matters related to compliance with AB 939. In other agreements the role of the JPA is more circumscribed. However, even if the JPA does not provide the necessary authority, member jurisdictions can always pass a resolution authorizing one jurisdiction or other body to submit the application.

If applicants have a question about their particular JPA, they may submit the language concerning the JPA’s authority to CalRecycle staff for initial review; however, the final decision will have to be made by their respective legal counsel.

Do you have to provide maps if you are a multijurisdictional applicant?

Yes. We need maps to get a complete picture of your proposed zone. Additionally, a map showing current zoning is important for our review.

Is it true, that if the applicant does not identify a specific area (1 square block) but rather a countywide area as a RMDZ zone, it can file an exemption under CEQA? Direct to link on exemptions?

Each applicant will have to determine the applicability of CEQA exemptions with the assistance of its counsel.

Please elaborate on Zone metrics? Is there a list?

There are two types of metrics to consider for this application: 1) Activity Metrics and 2) Evaluation Metrics. An Activity Metric is simply a completion measure. For instance, if you identify that you want to print 1,000 brochures, then once they are printed that metric is complete. An Evaluation Metric is what you expect will result from an activity. If you distribute your 1,000 brochures, then your Evaluation Metric would be how many calls, e-mails, or visits you receive from potential Zone participants. A longer term Evaluation Metric would be how many businesses began participating in the Zone Program as a result of your outreach efforts. There is no list of metrics.

Please elaborate about Zone Incentive Funds (ZIFs).

ZIF monies are available to all Zone Administrators (ZA) who have active ZIF agreements to help offset zone administrative costs. These funds can be used for graphics, printing, advertising, outreach, conferences, trade shows, and various other activities to support your Zone. ZIF amounts vary by cycle. The ZIF4 cycle allocated up to $12,924 for each zone. ZAs can use up to $750 per zone per Zone Works workshop. The rest of the funds are for the other services listed above.

Must applicants use priority materials?

Applicants must identify the priority materials in their proposed Zone area. You should determine what materials are most readily available for recycling and what businesses can recycle those materials. Where availability meets demand is where you’ll find your priority materials. Based on this definition, you should focus on your local priority materials.

Is priority defined by volume or ease of removing from wastestream?

As described above, a priority material is defined by volume (availability), collectability, and marketability. We expect your application to make a strong case for why you are targeting any particular waste type based on local conditions.

What if it is something of lower volume, or something they just want to get out of the waste stream?

We expect each applicant to know and fully describe the waste in their proposed Zone area and make their own determinations based on local markets and business conditions.

Does goal attainment above goal diversion add to points? Are any priority related to AB 939?

The criteria do not consider AB 939 goals directly. No points or priority are added for jurisdictions that have met or exceeded the AB 939 diversion goals and a jurisdiction’s failure to meet AB 939 goals will not preclude it from consideration as a zone.

How will I know if my application is complete after June 30?

The regulations answer this question nicely. Title 14, Natural Resource-Division 7, Chapter 4. Resource Conservation Programs, Article 1. Recycling Market Development Zone Designation Process states (pursuant to Public Resources Code (PRC) sections 40400, Any reference in any law or regulation to the State Solid Waste Management Board, the California Waste Management Board, or the California Integrated Waste Management Board shall hereafter apply to the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.)

Section 17906. What will the Board consider when reviewing my application?
When the Board reviews your application, it will consider only the information in your application.

(a) First, the Board will review applications to determine that they are complete and meet the eligibility requirements that are described in section 42002(c) of the Public Resources Code. Within 21 calendar days of receiving an application, the Board will send an Initial Review letter to the applicant, stating that the Board has received their application. The Board’s minimum timeframe for completing an Initial Review is seven days. The median time frame is 14 days. The maximum timeframe is 21 days. The Initial Review letter will specify any deficiencies regarding completeness or eligibility and grant the applicant 14 calendar days from the date on the letter to correct the deficiencies and submit the changes to the Board. The Board must receive the changes by 4:00 p.m. on the 14th day.

(1)  Within the 21 day initial review period, an applicant can make administrative changes such as changing the name of the contact person, submitting missing pages or correcting calculation or typographical errors. An applicant cannot make changes to the recycling market development plan or change the size of the proposed zone during this time.

(2) If more than one application includes the same area, or portion of an area, the Board will notify the applicants, in writing, within the 21 day Initial Review period. The applicants must resubmit their applications without overlapping areas within 30 calendar days of the date on the notification letter. The Board must receive your modified application by 4:00 p.m. on the 30th day.

(b) The Board will evaluate your application’s recycling market development plan and, if it is accepted, will review it against the statewide recycling objectives.

What is the point allocation in scoring application (i.e. number of points per section/criterion)?

The Public Notice posted on January 2, 2018 contains the scoring criteria. It can be found on Attachment 1.

For more information, contact