California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (MORe)

Local Government Requirements and Resources

Program News...

Local jurisdictions shall implement an organic waste recycling program on and after January 1, 2016, to divert organic waste generated by businesses. Each jurisdiction is unique and shall adopt a program that suits its specific local needs, depending on the type of organic materials that businesses generate and other factors. If a jurisdiction, on and after January 1, 2016, has in place an organic waste recycling program that meets the requirements of this section, it is not required to implement a new or expanded organic waste recycling program.

A jurisdiction’s organic waste recycling program targeted to commercial organic waste generators may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following key elements:

  • Implementing a mandatory commercial organic waste recycling policy or ordinance.
  • Enforcement provisions, including a structure for fines and penalties.
  • Requiring a mandatory organic recycling program through a franchise contract or agreement.
  • A requirement that organic waste go through a source-separated or mixed-processing system that diverts organic waste from disposal.
  • Certification requirements for self-haulers.
  • Charging and collecting fees from organic waste generators to recover the jurisdictions’ cost complying with the law.
  • Implementation or enforcement of organic waste recycling requirements that are more stringent or comprehensive than the minimum requirements outlined here.
Rural Exemptions

Exemptions are allowed for jurisdictions that are located entirely within a rural county or counties. A rural county is one with a population of less than 70,000. A rural jurisdiction, e.g., county, city, or regional agency, can submit a resolution to CalRecycle exempting themselves and the businesses that operate in the region from the mandatory organic recycling requirements. Jurisdictions wishing to be exempt from implementation of the law on January 1, 2016, submitted a related resolution to CalRecycle prior to June 30, 2015.

The law also requires that each jurisdiction’s program contain certain common elements. These requirements are applicable whether or not the jurisdiction meets its 50 percent per capita disposal target:

  • Identifying the businesses that meet the applicable thresholds.
  • Conducting annual education and outreach to inform businesses about the law and how to recycle organics in the jurisdiction. Jurisdictions can build their education, outreach and monitoring activities into the activities that they are doing to implement the Mandatory Commercial Recycling law. A jurisdiction could incorporate information about how to recycle organics into its existing education/outreach activities via its electronic tools, e.g., the jurisdiction’s and the hauler’s websites; written materials, e.g., a brochure; and direct contact with businesses, e.g., on waste assessments or presentations to business organizations.
  • Implementing annual monitoring activities to identify those not recycling and to inform them of the law and how to recycle organics in the jurisdiction. Jurisdictions can build on their monitoring activities for Mandatory Commercial Recycling. For example, the hauler may be responsible for identifying those not recycling organics and the jurisdiction may contact those not recycling organics via a letter, phone call, and/or site visit.

Note: The authority of a local governmental agency to adopt, implement, or enforce a local organic waste recycling requirement, or impose a condition upon a self-hauler, that is more stringent or comprehensive than the requirements of this law is not limited. Additionally, the following are not modified, limited, or abrogated in any manner by this law:

  • A franchise granted or extended by a city, county, city and county, or other local governmental agency.
  • A contract, license, or permit to collect solid waste previously granted or extended by a city, county, city or county, or other local governmental agency.
  • The existing right of a business to sell or donate its recyclable organic waste materials.
  • The authority of a local jurisdiction with respect to land use, zoning, or facility siting decisions by or within that local jurisdiction.

Exemptions. On a case-by-case basis, a jurisdiction may exempt individual businesses from the organic waste recycling requirements. Jurisdictions must include their rationale for allowing exemptions in the electronic annual report (EAR) they submit to CalRecycle. Certain exemptions (denoted below with an asterisk) will not be allowed on and after January 1, 2020, if CalRecycle determines that statewide disposal of organic waste has not been reduced to 50 percent of the level of disposal during the 2014 calendar year. Reasons for exemptions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Lack of sufficient space in multifamily complexes or businesses to provide additional organic material recycling bins.
  • Existing business actions that result in the recycling of a significant portion of its organic waste.
  • Generation by the business or group of less than one-half of a cubic yard of organic waste per week.
  • *Generation by the business or group of less than one cubic yard of organic waste per week (if the local jurisdiction provides CalRecycle with information that explains the need for this higher exemption).
  • Extraordinary and unforeseen events (limited-term exemptions).

Reporting. Beginning with the submission of the 2016 Electronic Annual Report (EAR), which is due August 2017, to CalRecycle (and covers calendar year 2016 recycling activities and programs), jurisdictions will be required to report on progress on the implementation of the organic waste recycling program. Each jurisdiction’s annual report must include the following information in the 2016 EAR and subsequent EARs:

  • Existing local organic waste recycling facilities and the respective capacities available for materials to be accepted.
  • Existing solid waste and organic waste recycling facilities within the jurisdiction that may be suitable for potential expansion or co-location of organic waste processing or recycling facilities.
  • Efforts underway to develop new private or public regional organic waste recycling facilities that may serve some or all of the organic waste recycling needs of the commercial waste generators within the jurisdiction, and the anticipated timeframe for completion of those facilities.
    • Closed or abandoned sites that might be available for new organic waste recycling facilities.
    • Other nondisposal opportunities and markets.
    • Appropriate zoning and permit requirements to site new organic waste recycling facilities.
    • Incentives available, if any, for developing new organic waste recycling facilities within the jurisdiction.
    • Barriers to siting new or expanded composting, anaerobic digestion and chip and grind facilities and a plan to remedy those barriers that are within the control of the local jurisdiction.
  • Report on the identification, education, outreach, and monitoring activities, including the number of businesses that are not recycling organics and what was done to inform them of the law. Providing tonnage on the amount of material that is recycled is optional.
  • Rationale for allowing exemptions, and, if applicable, report on enforcement efforts.

Related Resources

Employee-based Generator ID Tool. The purpose of this tool is to help identify businesses that generate 8 cubic yards or 4 cubic yards of organics per week for different business types based on number of employees. For additional information, see the background and instructions document  for this tool. A disposal-based service level Generator ID Tool has been developed by CalRecycle as well.

Example of Generator ID Methods. While CalRecycle considers that using employee and waste characterization data to be more inclusive, the Department also recognizes that a service level approach based upon disposal service level may be sufficient in some situations. Different type of service level approaches are listed in this document.

Program Needs Assessment Tool. This is a simple analytical tool to help jurisdictions assess business and programmatic needs. It incorporates the types of questions that CalRecycle staff will ask during annual site visits, annual report reviews, and the formal jurisdiction review period to assess the adequacy of program implementation and to make a recommendation regarding a jurisdiction’s compliance with pertinent requirements.

Letter to Covered Businesses from CalRecycle. This letter from CalRecycle to covered businesses describes the new mandatory commercial organic recycling requirements and how to get more information.

Education/Outreach Tools. CalRecycle has developed a number of customizable materials, including PSAs, a promotional kit, and a brochure that local jurisdictions can use as education and outreach tools. Additionally, special thanks are due to Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco counties for sharing Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling resources for other jurisdictions to use.

Specific to schools, CalRecycle has developed a:

Additional information regarding school recycling requirements is provided on CalRecycle’s School Waste Reduction pages.

Draft Electronic Annual Report Questions to Address AB 1826. This file details the specific questions that will need to be addressed in the Electronic Annual Report for each jurisdiction, starting with the 2016 report (due in August 2017).

AB 876 Guidance and Calculator. CalRecycle created guidance and a calculator to assist jurisdictions with compostable organics diversion planning. AB 876 requires a county or regional agency to provide an estimate of organics generated and diversion capacity needed over a 15-year period. Jurisdictions and counties will report to CalRecycle on their progress in implementing an organic waste recycling program, estimates of organic waste disposed, needed capacity to divert organics, and planning to develop this infrastructure through the Electronic Annual Report (EAR) beginning with the 2016 report (due in August 2017).

Tool to Identify and Map Waste Recycling Facilities. Starting with the 2016 Annual Report (due August 2017), each jurisdiction needs to identify existing organic waste recycling facilities within a reasonable vicinity and the capacities available for materials to be accepted at each facility. To assist in this process, CalRecycle has developed a GIS-based capacity tool that can be used in conjunction with the existing FacIT database and the Where to Recycle mapping resource. Please refer to this tool to identify organic waste recycling facilities within a reasonable vicinity and get an idea of related capacity ranges. Future updates to this tool will allow users to map concentric circles around the jurisdiction to determine organic waste recycling facilities within a given radius and, through the overlay of permit information, have the ability to determine capacity information.

Potential Funding Support for Food Banks. Expanding California Food Banks’ food rescue operations would be beneficial to California for a number of reasons:

  • California food banks will play a key role in helping California to achieve its 75 percent goal and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while addressing food insecurity.
    • There are significant greenhouse gas emission reductions realized when food is rescued instead of disposed.
    • In California, 1 in 4 children face hunger every day.
  • Expanding food banks can create jobs and support businesses because rescuing food can reduce a business’ solid waste disposal costs.

For information about California food banks visit: http://www.cafoodbanks.org.

Green Material Used as Alternative Daily Cover (ADC)--AB 1594. As of January 1, 2020, the use of green material as alternative daily cover (ADC) will no longer constitute diversion through recycling and will instead be considered disposal in terms of measuring a jurisdiction’s annual 50 percent per capita disposal rate. This page outlines key elements of the law, FAQs, and additional references and resources.

Updated Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan (CIWMP) Enforcement Policy Part II: This section includes a document titled “Failure to Implement a SRRE and HHWE, Including Failure to Implement MCR, MORe, and AB 1594.”

The Institute for Local Government’s (ILG) Recycling Resource Center offers useful resources and tools related to the funding and financing as well as the planning and siting of local recycling infrastructure. This resource center also features a section devoted to commercial recycling.

Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling Home

Last updated: March 20, 2017
Commercial Recycling, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Recycle/Commercial/
Contact: LAMD@CalRecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6199