California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

LEA Advisory #50July 10, 1998

Waste Diversion Activities at Solid Waste Landfills and Closed and Closing Disposal Sites

To All Local Enforcement Agencies:

The purpose of this advisory is to provide guidance and information to the Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency (LEA) on solid waste diversion activities and facilities at solid waste landfills and closed or closing disposal sites.

This advisory is part of the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) Permitting and Enforcement Division's responsibilities for implementing the CIWMB's "50 Percent Initiative." In addition, this advisory addresses issues raised at the Asilomar Partnership 2000 conference (November 1997) concerning multiple uses on closed or closing sites.


Solid waste diversion goals for California were established in 1990 by the State Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989, commonly referred to as AB 939. On a statewide basis cities and counties worked hard to substantially increase diversion from 1990 levels and met the 25 percent diversion goal for 1995. The 50 percent diversion goal for 2000 is clearly a more ambitious undertaking.

In response to concerns about the difficulty in achieving 50 percent waste diversion by 2000 the CIWMB conducted public workshops in 1995 and 1996 to solicit input to help cities and counties achieve this goal. The CIWMB's effort to evaluate and implement these ideas (50 Percent Initiative) culminated in strategies adopted by the CIWMB in March 1997. All CIWMB committees and divisions took part in this effort.

As part of the 50 Percent Initiative the Permitting and Enforcement Division is responsible for implementing two of the strategies by providing:

  • Guidance to facilitate diversion facilities at landfills and disposal sites.
  • A fact sheet or guidance document on potential diversion end uses at disposal facilities.

Increased diversion of solid waste from landfill disposal results in many challenges to protection of public health and safety and the environment. LEAs have expressed concern that protection of public health and safety and the environment not be compromised in favor of waste diversion. To address that concern it is important to note that the intent of the 50 Percent Initiative was not to promote waste diversion at the expense of protection of public health and safety and the environment. Protection of public health and safety and the environment is part of the CIWMB mission as stated in the mission statement established by the July 1997 strategic plan:

"Our mission is to reduce the generation and improve the management of solid waste in California to conserve resources, develop sustainable recycling markets, and protect public health and safety and the environment. We do this in partnership with public agencies, industry, business, and the public we serve."

The LEA helps implement this mission by playing the key role in protection of public health and safety and the environment from the management of solid waste. It is not the responsibility of the LEA to promote waste diversion or implement the diversion mandates. Recycling coordinators in local planning and public works departments typically implement the diversion mandates for local jurisdictions. CIWMB will continue to pursue activities to enhance communication between LEAs, local recycling coordinators, and CIWMB staff from different divisions in order to prevent conflicts in these areas.

Diversion Facilities at Active, Closed, or Closing Disposal Sites

As expected since the promulgation of AB 939 there has been a substantial increase in the number of California solid waste facilities specifically for waste diversion activities. These facilities are used for composting, chipping and grinding, processing of construction and demolition wastes, and transfer/processing of municipal and commercial solid waste.

Separate new sites for diversion facilities can be problematic for the LEA. New sites may be widespread and located in areas more prone to public nuisances and complaints. Conflicts with local land use requirements are also common. By contrast, existing sites (active, closed, or closing disposal sites) under regulatory oversight by the LEA may provide more centralized and controlled locations for waste diversion facilities. LEAs also typically have more regulatory controls and tools than allowed for under permit tiers for a separate new facility.

Therefore, the LEA should be familiar with the applicable requirements in order to facilitate diversion facilities at active, closed, or closing disposal sites.

Diversion Facilities at Solid Waste Landfills

LEA Advisory No. 39 (Issuance of Multiple Permits) provides guidance to facilitate adding a new activity, subject by itself to the regulatory tiers, within the boundaries of an existing facility with a full solid waste facility permit. One example is adding a composting operation to an active solid waste landfill. The operator may decide to apply for separate tier permits or incorporate the activity within the full solid waste facility permit, subject to the conditions as described in LEA Advisory No. 39.

Diversion Facilities at Closed or Closing Disposal Sites

Public Resources Code (PRC) Sections 44001 and 44002 require operators of solid waste facilities to obtain a solid waste facility permit. Therefore, an activity subject to the regulatory tiers, located within the boundaries of a closed or closing disposal site (e.g., composting facility), must obtain the applicable solid waste permit before commencing. These activities are also subject to the postclosure land use standards of Title 27, California Code of Regulations (27 CCR), Section 21190. For any closed or closing disposal site that operated on or after January 1, 1988, an activity subject to the regulatory tiers must also be incorporated in the final closure and postclosure maintenance plan (final plan), or added as a revision to the final plan.

More specific guidance on all aspects of postclosure land use at disposal sites will be provided in a separate LEA Advisory.

Waste Diversion End Uses at Disposal Sites

Disposal sites such as municipal solid waste landfills represent a potential ideal location for waste diversion end uses. In addition, LEAs generally have regulatory authority and tools to ensure protection of public health and safety and the environment at these sites. Under the provisions of Chapter 978, Statutes of 1996 (AB 1647, Bustamante), alternative daily cover and other beneficial reuse of waste materials in the construction and operation of a solid waste landfill were defined as constituting diversion through recycling (PRC Section 41781.3).

Disposal sites typically have ready access to waste materials amenable to diversion and the diversion facilities necessary to produce these materials. Disposal sites are typically areas of extensive construction and grading with the potential need for large quantities of construction materials and soil amendments. Many diverted materials provide an economical alternative to virgin materials for construction and soil amendments.

The attached table provides general examples of waste diversion end uses at disposal sites. CIWMB staff can provide specific end use examples and more detailed information upon request.

Besides ensuring that the use of diverted materials meets all state minimum standards and permit conditions as enforced by the LEA, operators of solid waste landfills must accurately record and report all alternative cover and waste disposal to the CIWMB. CIWMB disposal reporting requirements are contained in 14 CCR 18800 et seq.

Further questions concerning this LEA Advisory may be directed to your Permitting and Inspection or Remediation, Closure, and Technical Services Branch liaisons.


Original signed by:

Deputy Director
Permitting and Enforcement Division

Attachment--Table of Waste Diversion End Uses at Disposal Sites

Publication #231-98-010

The intent of the advisories is to provide guidance to Local Enforcement Agencies (LEA) in performing their duties. Guidance, for this purpose, is defined as providing explanation of the Board’s regulations and statutes.

Unless included by reference in the LEA's Enforcement Program Plan (EPP), advisories are not enforceable in the same manner as regulations because they have not been adopted through the formal rulemaking process (see Government Code sections 11340.5 and 11342.6). Advisories do not take precedence over statute or regulation.

Please note: These LEA advisories are retained for historical purposes. Over time, some information and links on these pages may become dated and/or inaccurate.

LEA Advisories,
Martin Perez: Martin Perez (916) 323-0834