Since the enactment of the Integrated Waste Management Act in 1989, local governments and private industries have worked jointly to create an extensive material collection infrastructure. However, California still landfills more than 12 million tons of compostable organics each year, approximately 40 percent of all disposal. Two recent pieces of legislation require jurisdictions to plan for organics processing capacity in order to reduce the landfilling of organics, increase composting and anaerobic digestion, and meet the state’s organic diversion goals.
- 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.
- AB 876 (McCarty, Chapter 593, Statutes of 2015) addresses 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.)
(1a) 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.
(2) 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 (1a) above.
Note: Beginning with the 2017 EAR, # 1 and #1a may be answered in tons per year or cubic yards per year.
CalRecycle staff members have completed an initial high-level review of aggregate data submitted in the 2016 EAR and prepared a draft analysis of the AB 876 data received. The analysis consists of draft findings, recommendations of potential revisions to the EAR, and supporting needs for the capacity planning requirements in SB 1383: AB 876 Problem Statement and Recommendations.
Counties and regional agencies are encouraged to communicate and collaborate with cities, with haulers, with the operators of organics processing facilities, and with neighboring counties, on developing organics capacity planning information for the Electronic Annual Report (EAR). For example, 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. Your county’s solid waste task force may also be a venue for a larger conversation.
The following is guidance on how to report if a regional agency does not consist of all of the jurisdictions in a county:
- If a regional agency does not consist of all of the jurisdictions in a county, CalRecycle recommends that the county coordinate with the RA(s) and discuss how they want to compile their data. For example, it would be best if the data were for the county as a whole and not broken out by RA. In the EAR, regional agencies and the county should report the same data and explain that the data is for the county as a whole.
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 planned, 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:
- 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 where existing facilities can be expanded?
- Have you considered how different types of organics, especially food waste, will affect your capacities and types of facilities you will need? Have you considered how much of that food waste is edible food that may be recovered for feeding hungry people instead of being processed at a permitted organics facility?
- 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?
- 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?
- Have you identified existing organic materials processing facilities in your region, identified what other cities and counties are using these facilities, assessed whether or not these facilities have capacity to take additional materials, and determined whether they are permitted to accept food materials?
- 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? Do haulers in your county or RA own or operate any organics processing facilities? Will they need to complete construction to contract for capacity?
- Has your county or RA sent green materials to direct land application without composting? Of all the fractions of the organics waste stream, food is the most difficult to process. As you and your cities are planning for organic recycling capacity keep in mind that Chip and Grind facilities are limited to processing green material that expressly excludes food waste [(14 CCR Sections (a)(10) and (a)(21)
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 many more are located online at ILG’s online Recycling Resource Center:
- Recycling Roadmap: How to Plan, Site and Finance Your Recycling Facility
- Model Goals, Policies, Zoning, and Development Standards for Composting and Remanufacturing Facilities
- Understanding Recycling Facilities and Required Permits
III. Reporting in the Electronic Annual Report (EAR)
Guidance for counties and regional agencies will be addressed in the EAR webinar training conducted each Spring. Additional features include:
- There are specific fields in the EAR for reporting on AB 876. The fields provide flexibility in communicating the data. You will also be able to upload documents in the EAR, and you can refer to the document that was uploaded in the EAR text field.
- 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.
Data report for Projected Organic Waste Disposed and Capacity Needed as reported in the EAR by counties and regional agencies.
For additional information, please contact your Local Assistance and Market Development contacts.