California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Local Government Central

AB 876 (Organics Management Infrastructure Planning) Guidance

With the enactment of the California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (Division 30 [commencing with Section 40000] of the Public Resources Code), the Legislature required the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery and local agencies to promote recycling and composting over land disposal and transformation. Since the enactment of the Act, local governments and private industries have worked jointly to create an extensive material collection infrastructure and have implemented effective programs to achieve a statewide diversion rate of greater than 50 percent. However, although California now leads the nation in waste reduction and recycling, the state continues to dispose of more than 12 million tons of compostable organics each year. This constitutes approximately 40 percent of the 31 million tons disposed of during 2014 in solid waste landfills. To reduce the landfilling of organics, increase composting and anaerobic digestion, and meet the state’s organic diversion goals, cities and counties now must plan for organics processing facilities that can process organics diverted from landfills and organics waste generators. In particular, AB 1826 (Chesbro, Chapter 727, Statutes of 2014), requires each city and county to assess the infrastructure necessary for implementing their commercial organics recycling programs.

Additionally, in October 2015 the Governor signed AB 876 (McCarty, Chapter 593, Statutes of 2015) to address longer-term planning for organics infrastructure by requiring counties and regional agencies to report the following information in the Electronic Annual Report (EAR) commencing on August 1, 2017:

(1) An estimate of the amount of organic waste in cubic yards that will be disposed by the county or region over a 15-year period. (Note: CalRecycle received clarification from the author that it is the amount of organic waste to be disposed that should be estimated. Additionally, it is not necessary to conduct a waste characterization study since the focus is on estimating how much material will be disposed in the future. See tools below for estimating the amount of organics disposal.)

(2) An estimate of the additional organic waste recycling facility capacity in cubic yards that will be needed to process the amount of organic waste identified in (1) above.

(3) Areas identified by the county or RA as locations for new or expanded organic waste recycling facilities capable of safely meeting the additional organic waste recycling facility capacity need identified in (2) above.

I. Collaboration:

Counties and regional agencies are encouraged to communicate and collaborate with the cities on developing this information for the Electronic Annual Report (EAR). Since cities are planning for and implementing the mandatory commercial organics recycling programs, they may already have information on potential areas for new or expanded facilities.

The following is guidance on how to report if a regional agency does not consist of all of the jurisdictions in a county:

  • Since the county and RA(s) all report in the EAR, CalRecycle recommends that the county coordinate with the RA(s) and discuss how they want to compile their data. For example, it would be acceptable if the data is for the county as a whole and not broken out by RA. In the EAR, regional agencies and the county could report the same data and explain that the data is for the county as a whole. Each reporting entity would need to include this information, as the data fields will be required entries in the EAR.

II. Tools:

1. Estimating the Amount of Organic Waste Disposed and Additional Facility Capacity Needed Over a 15-Year Period

CalRecycle has developed a tool to help counties and regional agencies estimate projected tonnage information. This tool provides default values using data from CalRecycle’s FacIT database, the 2014 statewide waste characterization study, and population projections from the California Department of Finance. While the tool provides a rough estimate of the amount of organic waste disposed over a 15-year period and additional facility capacity needed to process that material, it also allows the user the flexibility to enter its own information for a more refined estimate. AB 876 (Organics Management Infrastructure Planning) Calculator

2. Identifying Areas for New or Expanded Facilities

Addressing the facilities that may need to be expanded or sited to process the organic materials in 15 years will require each county or regional agency to assess its unique situation, including existing facilities and their ability to process the material, and any new or expanded facilities that can be identified.

CalRecycle is intentionally not including a definition of “areas” to allow counties and regional agencies flexibility in identifying areas for new or expanded facilities based on their unique situations. For example, CalRecycle understands there could be some challenges in identifying “areas” too specifically without conducting a public process or forum, prior to reporting such areas in the EAR. Since this information is to be updated in the EAR on an annual basis, in future years CalRecycle will work with counties and regional agencies to further refine the types of areas they should identify.

The Department will consider the following types of questions in evaluating responses regarding how you are identifying or have identified locations for new or expanded organic waste recycling facilities capable of safely meeting the additional organic waste recycling facility capacity need identified over a 15-year period:

  1. Have you met as a county, regional agency, or even a broader geographic region to discuss areas or locations where new organics diversion facilities can be placed or existing facilities can be expanded?
  2. Have you considered how different types of organics, e.g., food waste and yard waste, will affect your capacities and types of facilities you will need?
  3. Have you already identified areas or sites through some type of public process? If so, please provide that information. If not, how and when will you go about doing this?
  4. Have you assessed existing MRFs and diversion facilities that could be used for co-location, and assessed closed or abandoned sites that could be used again?
  5. Have you identified existing diversion facilities in your area that are permitted to accept organics, and have you assessed the amount of additional material they can process?
  6. Are there any existing contracts in place between the jurisdictions or facilities that could limit the amount of new organic material that can be taken to existing facilities?

3. Additional Resources

In 2014 and 2015, the Institute for Local Government (ILG) worked closely with CalRecycle under contract to develop a variety of guidance documents and webinars to help elected officials and stakeholders plan and finance new recycling facilities. The following documents and much more can be found online at ILG’s online Recycling Resource Center:

III. Reporting in the Electronic Annual Report (EAR)

Guidance for counties and regional agencies will be addressed in the EAR webinar training that will be conducted in Spring 2017. Additional features include:

  • Starting with the August 1, 2017, EAR, there will be specific fields for reporting on AB 876. The fields will be designed to provide flexibility in communicating the data. You will also be able to upload documents in the EAR, and in the EAR text field you can refer to the document that was uploaded.
  • As noted above, each county or regional agency is encouraged to interact with the cities. However, there is no requirement for approval by the cities. This process is not intended to be an overly burdensome planning process.
    • After the first year of AB 1826 infrastructure reporting, CalRecycle can provide each county or regional agency with infrastructure information as reported from the applicable cities.
  • Counties and regional agencies will update, if applicable, this data each year.

Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (MORe) and Mandatory Commercial Recycling (MCR), Electronic Annual Report Questions (PDF, 501 KB) Commencing August 1, 2017 (Revised February 2016)

For additional information, please contact your Local Assistance and Market Development liaison at (916) 341-6199.

Last updated: August 26, 2016
Local Government Central 
Local Assistance & Market Development: (916) 341-6199