California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

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)]

More 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 tpd) 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

  • All compostable material handling facilities and operations are required to comply with the state minimum standards set forth in 14 CCR, Division 7, Chapter 3.1, Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
    • Article 7 set forth environmental health standards with regard to sampling requirements, maximum metal concentration requirements, pathogen reduction, and physical contamination limits (operative on January 1, 2018) for compost produced.
  • A Report of Compost Site Information (RCSI) is required for all compostable material handling facilities and for vegetative food material composting facilities.
  • An Odor Impact Minimization Plan (OIMP) is required for facilities and operations.
  • An Odor Best Management Practice Feasibility Report may be required as specified in 14 CCR 17863.4.1.
  • Any compostable material derived from an operation or facility that will be land applied must meet the land application requirements pursuant to 14 CCR 17852(a)(24.5)(A).

Implementation Issues

A web site has been created to answer frequently asked questions about the implementation of the compost regulations.

Regulations Summary

Regulations Pertaining to Compostable Material Handling Facilities and Operations
Topic Regulations
Compost Permit Regulatory Requirement 14 CCR Chapter 3.1
State Minimum Standards 14 CCR Chapter 3.1, Article 5 though 9
Report of Compost Site Information Requirements 14 CCR 18227
Odor Impact Minimization Plan 14 CCR 17863.4
Odor Best Management Practice Feasibility Report 14 CCR 17863.4.1
Definitions 14 CCR 17852
Regulatory Tier Requirements 14 CCR 17854.1

Other Resources

Last updated: November 29, 2016
Permit Toolbox,
Kevin Taylor: (916) 341-6582