Permitting Compostable Material Handling Facilities and Operations

This page provides information and resources for obtaining approval to operate a compostable material handling facility or operation. This page is not meant to be a substitute for the full text of the regulations or statute.

Please note that other local, state, or federal agencies may also have regulatory authority over solid waste facilities and operations.

What is a Compostable Material Handling Facility or Operation?

“Compost” means the product resulting from the controlled biological decomposition of organic wastes that are source separated from the municipal solid waste stream, or which are separated at a centralized facility. “Compost” includes vegetable, yard, and wood wastes which are not hazardous waste. [Public Resources Code (PRC) §40116]

Compostable Material Handling Facility” or “Operation” means an operation or facility that processes, transfers, or stores compostable materials. Handling of compostable materials results in controlled biological decomposition. Handling includes composting, screening, chipping and grinding, and storage activities related to the production of compost, compost feedstocks, and chipped and ground materials. A compostable materials handling facility or operation does not include activities excluded from regulation in [Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (14 CCR) §17855].

“Compostable Materials Handling Facility” or “Operation” also includes: (A) agricultural material composting operations; (B) green material composting operations and facilities; (C) vegetative food material composting facilities; (D) research composting operations; (E) chipping and grinding operations and facilities; and, (F) biosolids composting operations at publicly owned treatment works [14 CCR §17852(a)(12)].

“Compostable Material” means any organic material that when accumulated will become active compost as defined in [14 CCR §17852(a)(1)14 CCR §17852(a)11].

“Active Compost” means compost feedstock that is in the process of being rapidly decomposed and is unstable. Active compost is generating temperatures of at least 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) during decomposition; or is releasing carbon dioxide at a rate of at least 15 milligrams per gram of compost per day, or the equivalent of oxygen uptake. [(14 CCR §17852(a)(1)]

All Definitions

What is the Regulatory Tier Placement for Compostable Material Handling Facilities or Operations?

The following resources are available to help determine which permit tier is appropriate for each type of site:

Excluded Tier Enforcement Agency Notification Tier Registration Permit Tier Full Solid Waste Facility Permit
Refer to
14 CCR §17855
Agricultural Material Composting Operations (all)
14 CCR §17856
  Composting Facilities (all) (e.g. biosolids,
digestate, food material, mixed material)
14 CCR §17854

Green Material Composting Operations (<12,500 yd3)

14 CCR §17857.1(a)

Vegetative Food Material Composting Facilities
(<12,500 yd3)
14 CCR §17857.2

Green Material Composting Facilities (>12,500 yd3)

14 CCR §17857.1(c)

Biosolids Composting Operations at POTWs (all)
14 CCR §17859.1
  Vegetative Food Material Composting Facilities
(>12,500 yd3)
14 CCR §17857.2
Research Composting Operations (≤5,000 yd3)
(Within-vessel >5,000 yd3 with EA determination)
14 CCR §17862
Chipping and Grinding Operations (≤200 tpd)
14 CCR §17862.1(a)
Chipping and Grinding Facilities (≥200 tpd and ≤500
14 CCR §17862.1(b)
Chipping and Grinding Facilities (>500 tpd)
14 CCR §17862.1(c)

A list of facilities that are excluded from the regulations can be found in 14 CCR §17855.

Regulatory Requirements Unique to Compostable Handling Facilities or Operations

Implementation Issues

Answers to frequently asked questions about the implementation of the compost regulations are available on this site.

Regulations Summary

Regulations Pertaining to Compostable Material Handling Facilities and Operations

New Regulations Effective January 1, 2022

The passage of SB 1383 resulted in changes to Title 14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3.1. The following is a brief summary of those changes:

  • Once incoming feedstock is received, facility or operation (facility) operators remove material that is not compatible with the composting process so that their final product is marketable. Material removed after processing sent to disposal is residual waste. Operators are required to measure the amount of organic waste in the residual waste sent for disposal and report the percentage to CalRecycle every quarter.
  • Facility operators are also required to maintain records including, but not limited to:
    • Sampling results
    • Incoming weights of material received
    • Outgoing weights of material sent to disposal
    • Outgoing weights of compost or chipped and ground material produced
    • Outgoing weights of compostable material sent offsite to any destinations other than permitted solid waste facility or operation
Amended CalRecycle Standards Pertaining to Compostable Material Handling Facilities and Operations 
General Operating Standards – Measuring Organic Waste Present in Materials Sent for Disposal 14 CCR § 17867(a)(16)
General Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements 14 CCR § 17869

For more information contact: LEA Support Services,