Venues and Events Laws

The large venues and large events recycling law (Public Resources Code 42648) requires large venue facilities and large events in each city and county to plan for solid waste reduction and, upon request, report information regarding their waste reduction efforts to their local jurisdiction.

The law also directs CalRecycle to provide guidance and assistance to venues and local jurisdictions in meeting their obligations.
CalRecycle provides updates on the latest information, tools, and resources available to assist venues, events, and local jurisdictions in reducing venue and event waste.

CalRecycle was required to evaluate large venue and event waste reduction efforts as reported by local agencies and submit a report of the findings to the California Legislature:


Local Agency

A local agency is defined as a city or county.

Large Events

A “large event” is defined as:

  1. Serves an average of more than 2,000 individuals per day of operation (both people attending the event and those working at it–including volunteers–are included in this number);and
  2. Charges an admission price or is run by a local agency.

The bill specifically includes public, nonprofit, or privately owned parks, parking lots, golf courses, street systems, or other open space when being used for an event, including, but not limited to, a sporting event or a flea market in addition to the other events that meet A and B above.

Large Venues

A “large venue” is defined as a permanent facility that annually seats or serves an average of more than 2,000 individuals within the grounds of the facility per day of operation (both people attending the event and those working at it–including volunteers too–are included in this number).

Venues include, but are not limited to airports, amphitheaters, amusement parks, aquariums, arenas, conference or civic centers, fairgrounds, museums, halls, horse tracks, performing arts centers, racetracks, stadiums, theaters, zoos, and other public attraction facilities. Venues operated by federal entities or located on federal property are not exempt from the mandates of AB 2176.

New Legislation That May Affect Large Venues and Events

AB 341 (Chapter 476, Statutes of 2011, Chesbro): Requirements of the statewide mandatory commercial recycling program. See the Mandatory Commercial Recycling page for more information.

AB 1826 (Chapter 727, Statutes of 2014, Chesbro): The law phases in the requirements on businesses, including multifamily residential dwellings that consist of five or more units, over time-based on the amount and type of waste the business produces on a weekly basis, with full implementation realized in 2019. Additionally, the law contains a 2020 trigger that will increase the scope of affected businesses if waste reduction targets are not met. See our Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling page for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is not a large event under AB 2176?
    Events that do not charge an admission fee unless operated by a local agency, events held on Indian lands, and events that attract 2,000 or fewer individuals per day of operation are not considered “large.”
  2. If a nonprofit group, or even a for-profit organization, holds a free event attracting more than 2,000 individuals, is it considered a large event under this law?
    No. Regardless of the size of the event, if there isn’t an admission fee or it isn’t run by the local agency, it isn’t considered a large event.
  3. Are food or historic festivals that are held on a street or in a park and attract more than 2,000 individuals and are considered large events?
    If there is no way to access festival activities without paying a fee, it is probably a large event. If the activity is free, but operated by the local agency, then it could be considered a large event.
  4. What if an event charges some other kind of fee; is this considered charging admission as per PRC 42648 (b)?
    In determining what an admission fee is, consider whether or not there is a fee for an individual to access the activity site or enjoy the event itself, for example:
    1. If entrance to a venue or event site on foot is not allowed or practical without a “parking fee,” then part of the parking charge may be
    2. considered an admission fee.
    3. Donations to a charity-sponsored event are not admission fees; however, if entrance to the event site is denied without a “donation,” then the donation may be considered an admission fee.
    4. If the fee is for activity participation, such as playing in a charity-benefit golf game where some of the payment covers commercial greens fees, or a fun run that requires a registration fee to participate, the same logic may apply. If entrance to the event site or event activity is denied without a fee, then part of the activity fee may really be an admission fee.
    5. Fees or donations to participate in games or dining once on the site of the event are generally not admission fees.
    6. Site rental or use fees (for use of a rental hall, for example) paid by a host are not an admission fee for the guests. Admission fees are commonly charged to each attendee.
    7. Free or complimentary tickets may count as an admission fee if others must pay a fee to enter the same event site for the same event.
  5. What is not a large venue under AB 2176?
    1. Facilities that are not public attractions are not venues. While the statute doesn’t provide a definition of what may be a public attraction, it would appear that church services, public parks and beaches, schools, and other businesses, such as restaurants, gas stations, and offices, do not fit the common meaning of public attraction venue. However, special events at these facilities might meet the definition of large events and should be evaluated using that definition.
    2. Facilities on Indian lands, such as casinos, are not covered under AB 2176.
    3. Venue facilities that seat or serve 2,000 or fewer individuals per day of operation are not considered “large.”
  6. What about sites that combine venue and nonvenue facilities?
    Nonvenue activities and facilities would generally not be covered by the provisions of AB 2176; for example:
    1. “Convention” hotels with large meeting rooms in the hotel structure–the convention rooms might qualify as a venue, but not the hotel guest areas.
    2. “Old towns,” historic squares, or other tourist areas with a mixed operation of streets, museums, and commercial stores–generally, only the museums or similar public attraction/entertainment facilities would be considered venues.
  7. Is a park or site with multiple attractions or facilities considered all one venue or multiple venues under PRC 42648 (c)?
    If a site that includes more than one large venue that is contiguous with other large venues in the site is under common ownership or control, it is considered a single large venue. Given that general guidance from statute, common logic will often dictate whether or not a specific situation should be treated as one venue or separate venues. Simply looking at who owns the land may not be sufficient. To help guide your determination, ask questions such as: Are the venues similar? Are the waste diversion challenges similar? Can one waste diversion plan work for all the venues? Are the venues run by one operator, or does each have its own operator or governing board? If you can easily answer yes to each of these questions, it probably makes sense to treat them as one venue. If many of the answers are no, it may be more logical to consider them independently.
  8. Are colleges and universities with stadiums, gymnasiums, or other similar facilities covered by the mandates of AB 2176?
    The classroom areas and school activities such as a graduation ceremony or intramural sports may be exempt, but a concert or sporting event at the stadium, gymnasium, field, or similar facilities that charges an admission fee and is open to the public may meet the definition of a large event and should be evaluated using that definition.
  9. What about a facility, such as a fairground or performing arts center, that hosts multiple different events? Do I consider it a single venue or do I consider all the events individually?
    If the entire facility is under common ownership or control and attracts more than 2,000 individuals per day of operation, it would generally be considered one large venue and the events and activities held at the venue would be considered as part of the venue operations.
  10. What does PRC 42911(c) mean by a “development project”?
    “Development project” is defined in Public Resources Code (PRC) 42905 as:
    1. A project for which a building permit will be required for a commercial, industrial, or institutional building, marina, or residential building having five or more living units, where solid waste is collected and loaded and any residential project where solid waste is collected and loaded in a location serving five or more units.
    2. Any new public facility where solid waste is collected and loaded and any improvements for areas of a public facility used for collecting and loading solid waste.
      Refer to CalRecycle’s Recycling Space Allocation Guide for more information on PRC 42911.
  11. Do the provisions of PRC 42911 apply only to venue and event development projects or to all development projects?
    PRC 42911 specifies that all development projects requiring a building permit, not just those for venues and events, must provide adequate space for collecting and loading recyclable materials.
  12. My local agency didn’t adopt an ordinance relating to adequate areas for collecting and loading recyclable materials by the September 1, 1994 deadline and CalRecycle’s model took effect. Can we still pass our own and enforce that instead of CalRecycle’s?
  13. Do local agencies have to report to CalRecycle on all venues and events?
    No. Although all large venues and events must develop and implement waste diversion plans, local agencies only need to report to the board on the top ten (10) percent (by waste generation) of the large venues and events within their city or county.
  14. Does the 10 percent rule referred to in PRC 42648.2 (a) (2) mean 10 percent of the large venues and large events TOGETHER, or 10 percent of the large venues, AND 10 percent of the large events?
    Large venues and large events are combined together before determining the largest 10 percent by waste generation. For example, if there are three large venues and seven large events in a local agency, the total number of large venues and events is ten and the top 10 percent would be one.
  15. My local agency has only eight venues and events within its boundaries that fit the PRC 42648 definitions of “large.” How does my local agency determine the largest 10 percent by waste generation for reporting to the state as per PRC 42648.2 (a) (2)?
    If there are less 10 ten qualifying large facilities and large events, then the minimum for local agency reporting would be one, the largest of the facilities and events by waste generation tonnage. If there are zero qualifying large venues or large events, then simply report that there are none located within the local agency’s boundaries.
  16. What if my local agency is part of a regional agency?
    Subsequent to the passage of AB 2176, CalRecycle received clarification that regional agencies would be considered the same as a city or county under this law. If your local agency is a member of a regional agency for the purposes of implementing Chapter 30, Part 2 of the PRC, the regional agency may assume responsibility for submitting the annual report to CalRecycle as required by PRC Section 41821. Beginning with the annual report for the 2005 reporting year, the regional agency may also submit the venues and events waste diversion information that is required to be reported by PRC 42648.2(a)(2).
  17. Should a regional agency report on the top 10 percent of the total number of large venues and events within the regional agency as a whole or the top 10 percent within each individual member local agency?
    A regional agency should report on the top 10 percent of large venues and large events within the region as a whole. For example, a regional agency with six member local agencies that have one large venue or large event, each would report on one large venue and/or event, not six.
  18. I can’t report on half of an event or venue, so what do I do if I have more than ten venues and events, but 10 percent of those doesn’t work out to an even number?
    We would suggest using the general rules for rounding to the nearest whole number. If 10 percent of the large venues and events work out to have a remaining fraction of 0.4 or less, round down, if it is 0.5 or more, round up. For example, if you have 14 large venues and large events, report on one. If you have 15, report on two.
  19. What should a local agency do if a venue or event refuses to provide their waste diversion information?
    PRC 42648.2 (a)(2) states that local agencies must report specified information regarding venues and events waste diversion, to the extent that the information is readily available to the local agency. If a venue or event won’t comply with a local agency’s request for waste diversion information, to the best of their ability the local agency should provide the venue or event information required in the annual report. It would be helpful to also note the efforts they made to obtain the information from the venue and event and that their efforts were unsuccessful.
    It might be useful for the local agency to explain to the noncompliant venue or event that CalRecycle will be reviewing compliance with the mandate for venues and events to develop and implement diversion plans. If CalRecycle finds that implementation is insufficient, they must recommend to the legislature statutory changes to require venue and event waste diversion programs.
    In addition, local agencies may adopt an ordinance at the local level that provides incentives to comply with the law and enacts penalties upon those that don’t. CalRecycle has adopted a model ordinance and general plan language to assist local agencies that wish to adopt an ordinance or general plan language facilitating waste diversion at venues and events.
  20. What if my agency does not issue a permit for a large venue or large event; do I still have to issue information as per 42648.2 (a) (1)?
    No, it is not required, however all large venues and large events in local agency are still required to develop a waste diversion plan and report their waste reduction activities if requested by the local agency. Providing waste diversion information to venues and events and local recycling resources will be helpful to this process.
  21. Does PRC 42648 supersede AB 75 (Chapter 764, Statutes of 1999, Strom-Martin) or other state requirements for agency waste reduction programs and reporting?
    No, each act stands alone and requires actions and reports as stated in the applicable PRC sections. However, to avoid double reporting, if a venue is already reporting to CalRecycle through their AB 75 report, it is suggested that the local agency should not include that venue in the total number of large venues and events from which they determine the top 10 percent they will report on through the agency’s annual report. Colleges in the California State University and Community College systems report under AB 75. Colleges in the University of California system do not.
  22. PRC 42648 requires that all large venues and large events prepare a waste reduction plan. What does this mean?
    The law requires large venue and large event operators to meet with recyclers and solid waste handlers to select appropriate waste diversion programs. In determining feasible programs, operators may select a target diversion rate and develop a plan and timeline to meet that goal. What is appropriate will vary with each venue and event.
    However, within 30 days upon request of a local agency, large venues and events must provide written documentation of the progress of the waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and diversion programs in their plan, or an explanation of their delay, as well as the type and weight of materials diverted and disposed. Venue and event operators should take these requirements into consideration and plan ahead to make reporting easier.
  23. How should venue and event operators measure the waste diversion rate?
    Some traditional choices used by businesses for measuring their waste diversion rate are:
    1. Tons of materials diverted annually, divided by total waste generated annually (disposed plus diversion).
    2. Reduction in total waste disposal compared to the previous year.
    3. Reduction in disposal or generation relative to a chosen base year.

Because of variations in annual business activity, some firms normalize their waste reduction data to make rates easier to compare from year to year. Some choices are:

  • Waste per individual (attendees plus employees and volunteers).
  • Waste per dollar of sales (adjusted for inflation).
  • Waste per square foot of activity or sales space.

Note: Public Resources Code 42648 does not require the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to regulate or enforce its provisions but rather to obtain information for future recommendations. CalRecycle will not be adopting regulations and local agencies need to make reasonable determinations based upon the provisions of the statue; CalRecycle will not be formally evaluating or auditing individual local agency determinations. However, as always, CalRecycle staff is available to assist local agencies in making these determinations. In interpreting the legislative intent regarding implementing AB 2176, the FAQs referenced above may be useful for local agencies and operators of venues and events.