California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Permitting Compostable Material Handling Operations and Facilities

This page provides information and resources for obtaining approval to operate a compostable material handling operation or facility. This page is not meant to be a substitute for the full text of the regulations or statute.

The resources on this page reflect the Compostable Materials Handling Operations and Facilities Regulatory Requirements adopted on April 4, 2003.

The mammalian tissue composting regulations became effective in April 2008, which:

  1. Allow onsite composting of mammalian tissue when associated with research designed to obtain data, and
  2. Authorize an enforcement agency to waive state minimum standards associated with a locally-approved temporary composting activity during a declared emergency.

What is a Compostable Material Handling Operation or Facility?

"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) Section 40116

"Compostable Material Handling Operation Facility" 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. "Compostable Materials Handling Operation or Facility" does not include activities excluded from regulation in Section 17855. "Compostable Materials Handling Operation or Facility" also includes (A) agricultural material composting operations; (B) green material composting operations and facilities; (C) research composting operations; and (D) chipping and grinding operations and facilities. Title 14 Section 17852(a)(12)

"Compostable Material" means any organic material that when accumulated will become active compost as defined in Section 17852(a)(1). Title 14 Section 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. Title 14 Section 17852(a)(1)

“Anaerobic Digestion” may be regulated like composting. Anaerobic digestion (which is sometimes labeled as a conversion technology) actually fits within the definition of composting. PRC section 40200(b)(3) and the 3-part test do not apply to the handling of compostable material as the definition assumes that the material being handled has already been separated. Sites using Anaerobic Digestion would potentially be regulated under the CIWMB compostable material handling regulations depending upon the nature of their feedstock and how it is being handled. Title 14 Section 17850 et seq

PRC 40116. "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.

More Definitions

Which permit tier is required for a compostable material handling sites?

The following resources are available to help determine which permit tier is appropriate for each type of site:

Facilities require either a full or registration permit. Operations will require notification.  Title 14, Section 17855 provides a list of facilities that are excluded from the regulations.

Permit Requirements Unique to Compostable Material Handling Sites

Implementation Issues

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

Pre-Existing Permits and Notifications

Title 14, Section 17855.4 describes the process and timelines for operators with pre-existing registration or standardized permits or notifications to apply for the proper tier.  This section also describes the process and timelines for activities that were previously excluded from the regulations in effect prior to April 4, 2003.

Resources

Regulations Summary--CIWMB Standards Pertaining to Compost

Other Resources

Last updated: May 5, 2010
Permit Toolbox, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/Permitting/
Kevin Taylor: Kevin.Taylor@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6582