California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Local Government Construction and Demolition (C&D) Guide

Diversion Requirement

The diversion requirement section of an ordinance sets the diversion rate (or rates) determined by the jurisdiction as the minimum required percentage(s) of construction and demolition (C&D) waste diversion a contractor must attain per project that falls under the ordinance. Percentage amounts vary between jurisdictions, and are usually based on their C&D recycling infrastructure, most common project types, or sometimes on a material type basis. For example, some ordinances set a higher diversion rate for asphalt/concrete from demolition projects than for new construction. Half of the materials generated, or 50 percent, is the most common diversion rate set when only one rate is required. Senate Bill 1374 required CalRecycle’s model ordinance to have a diversion rate requirement of 50 percent to 75 percent.

To minimize confusion over which activity will count as diversion, you should consider including a definition of the types of activities that would contribute toward achieving the diversion goal (for example, source reduction in new building construction, reuse or salvaging of materials in demolition projects, recycling or composting materials.)

In regard to clean inert debris sent to engineered fills and whether or how those materials are included in the diversion rate calculation, jurisdictions should be aware of how that waste type is treated in CalRecycle’s Construction and Demolition and Inerts Debris Recycling Regulations. CalRecycle’s regulations state that clean inerts taken to engineered fills do not count as either disposal or diversion for a jurisdiction’s AB 939 diversion rate requirement.

You may also want to include a section in your ordinance that addresses how the project applicant will be required or allowed to demonstrate diversion rate achievement. An example can be seen in Alameda County’s model ordinance. Please refer to “Section XX-7 Compliance with WMP.”

Some jurisdictions also allow for deconstruction or salvaging operations prior to demolition or construction to count toward the diversion requirement. For example, the City of Santa Monica includes in its C&D diversion ordinance the following language:

“In preparing the WMP, applicants for demolition permits involving the removal of all or part of an existing structure shall consider deconstruction… to the maximum extent feasible, and shall make the materials generated thereby available for salvage prior to landfilling. Deconstruction can be used to meet the sixty (60) percent diversion requirement provided it is accounted for in the WMP.”

Another example is from San Mateo County’s ordinance:

  1. “Contractors are encouraged to make every structure planned for demolition available for deconstruction, salvage, and recovery prior to demolition; and to recover the maximum feasible amount of salvageable designated recyclable and reusable materials prior to demolition.
  2. Recovered and salvaged designated recyclable and reusable materials from the deconstruction phase shall be counted towards the diversion requirements of this chapter.”

Diversion requirements can be set in several ways. For example, the rate can be:

  • A set or fixed rate for all projects (for example, 50 percent).
  • Set at different percentage rates based on material type generated by a project.
  • Based on the project type, for example, a higher diversion rate could be set for demolition projects than for new construction projects. The amount of diversion that is feasible to attain, however, will depend on the material in the building being demolished. For example, a concrete building may have a higher percentage of recyclable material than an older building that contains lead-based painted wood, asbestos acoustic tiles, etc.

Additionally, you may find, as has the City of San Jose, that certifying C&D recycling facilities can simplify verification of compliance with your ordinance’s diversion requirement. For more information on certifying C&D recycling facilities, please refer to  “Know Your Infrastructure." San Jose included a section on “certified recycling facilities” in its ordinance. Select the PDF file “CDDD Ordinance 26219;” see section “9.10.2460 Certified Facilities” for sample language.

C&D Diversion Guide Home | Diversion Requirement Exemption

Last updated: May 18, 2005
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