New California Recycling Law In Effect July 1

by Rachael Mitchell on May 22, 2012

This article was originally posted by the Long Beach Business Journal, by Sean Belk

All California businesses that generate four cubic yards or more of solid waste per week, and multifamily residential dwellings with five or more units, are required to start recycling by July 1, according to a new state law passed last year. Cities are also obligated to start implementing “education, outreach and monitoring” of a mandatory commercial recycling program by the deadline.

AB 341, introduced by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro, is considered the state’s first official mandatory commercial recycling legislation, although similar to previous rulemaking in the state’s landmark climate change bill, AB 32. The new recycling law, however, does not carry any fines or penalties, but rather gives local jurisdictions the authority to come up with their own rules of enforcement in a “phased in” process. Cities are required to file annual reports on compliance with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, known as CalReycle, which is overseeing the statewide regulation. Gov. Jerry Brown officially signed the legislation last year and the final regulation is pending approval of the state’s office of administrative law.

“There is leeway for local jurisdictions to implement the mandatory commercial recycling aspect of the legislation in ways that work best within their communities,” said Mark Oldfield, spokesperson for CalRecycle. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”

All businesses and apartments that fall under the law must implement recycling, whether it’s reusing waste, separating recyclables, composting waste materials or other waste diversion methods, he said. They also have to self-haul, subscribe to a hauler, arrange for the pickup of recyclable materials or subscribe to a recycling service that separates trash from recyclables at an offsite facility.

In addition, AB 341 sets a statewide “goal” for 75 percent disposal reduction by 2020. The waste diversion rate, however, is not a “mandate.” The state’s current 50 percent disposal reduction mandate still stands for cities, counties and state agencies under previous laws.

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