AB1826 - Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling

Required to Recycle Organics
Assembly Bill 1826 (AB 1826) was signed into law in October 2014 and states that multi-family complexes with 5 or more units and commercial businesses that generate over ½ a cubic yard of waste per week are required to recycle organics. Organic waste includes food waste, green waste, landscape, grass clippings, leaves, weeds, pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper.

For more information on the requirements in AB 1826, please visit CalRecycle's Organic Recycling website.

What is organic material?
Organic waste generally includes the following:  

Food scraps including all solid, semi-solid and liquid food such as fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, bones, poultry, seafood, bread, rice, pasta, tea bags, coffee grounds, and oils.

Yard trimmings include grass clippings, leaves, flowers, hedge clippings, and weeds.  Non-hazardous wood waste includes tree branches, tree trunks, and untreated lumber.

Why is this so important?
Organic waste in the landfill breaks down via a different bio-chemical pathway than if it were composted.  It breaks down without air, or anaerobically, and in the process, creates methane gas, which has an Environmental Protection Agency Global Warming Potential (GWP) rating of 21 compared to carbon dioxide’s rating of 1.  Meaning that the greenhouse gases emitted are 21 times more potent when organic material decomposes in the landfill. Also, methane is absorbed into the atmosphere more quickly than CO2, magnifying the immediate detrimental impact on the environment.  Most Californians understand the concept of recycling and participate in the process. However, about a third of the waste we create and send to the landfills could readily be composted.  In doing so, we could reduce greenhouse gas production, diminish landfill impacts, creating a wonderful soil amendment in support of our state’s agriculture, and create jobs!

compost picture
 Some of the organic material will be processed into compost.

biogas picture
Some of the organic material will be processed into biogas at an anaerobic digestion facility.

Who Will Be Affected?

  • 8 CY/week - affects most grocery stores.
  • 4 CY/week - affects most large sit-down restaurants (greater than 60 employees) plus above.
  • 2 CY/week - affects most medium sit-down restaurants (greater than 30 employees) plus above.
  • 1 CY/week - affects most fast-food restaurants (greater than 22 employees) plus above.
  • Business and school districts will all be affected as well, depending upon how much organic waste they generate.

For more information and to read the legislation, please visit CalRecycle’s website.

Waivers - Apply

Physical Space Waiver- This waiver is for businesses demonstrating that the premises lack adequate space for an organic waste container. This should be a temporary implementation and the space needs to be reevaluated every 5 years. Compliance ideas include bin sharing, different sized bins, or expanded trash enclosures for multiple commercial businesses.

Self-Hauling Waiver- This waiver can be used if a company will self-haul the organic waste in order to compost or divert it from landfills to elsewhere. Those who receive this waiver must keep strict records of the quantity of the organics, as well as documentation proving it does not end up in a landfill.

Existing Alternative Service Waiver- This waiver can be used if a person or organization provides organics recycling collection service. In order to use this waiver, there must be documents recording the organic material collected, a contracting statement, and proof that the organic material collected is not landfilled.