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The Mandatory Commercial Recycling Regulation was approved at the CalRecycle Monthly Public Meeting on January 17, 2012, and is currently pending Office of Administrative Law approval. Please see the Proposed Regulations page for more information.
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While there are some distinctions between the draft regulations in the prior ARB/CalRecycle rulemaking effort and the commercial recycling program outlined in AB 341, the fundamental framework and principal requirements are parallel. The primary difference between AB 341 and the draft ARB/CalRecycle regulations is that the threshold for businesses has changed so that all multifamily housing of five or more units are included in the statutory definition of business.
On and after July 1, 2012, businesses are required to recycle, and jurisdictions will need to implement a program that includes education, outreach, and monitoring. The regulations also allow for phased-in implementation. Jurisdictions are required to report in the 2012 Electronic Annual Report (due August 1, 2013) on their initial education, outreach, and monitoring efforts, and, if applicable, on any enforcement activities or exemptions implemented by the jurisdiction.
CalRecycle estimates that about 470,000 businesses and multifamily residences will have to take specific actions to comply with the proposed regulations. Of this total, about 250,000 are businesses and an additional 220,000 are multifamily dwellings.
The affected businesses represent approximately 20% of California’s 1.3 million businesses and are responsible for about 75% of the commercial waste generated in California. Using the California Department of Finance criteria for small business (fewer than 100 employees), about 90% of these affected businesses would be considered “small” businesses.
The regulated multifamily dwellings account for about 60% of the waste generated by multifamily housing.
The regulations are designed to allow jurisdictions flexibility to utilize their existing tools and solid waste management infrastructure to inform the businesses of the state requirement and to follow up with businesses that are not recycling. When jurisdictions implement the regulations, they will not be starting from zero. Most jurisdictions have some type of education, outreach, and monitoring programs for the commercial sector to build upon.
For example, jurisdictions can use existing print material to include information for businesses about the requirement to recycle, and include information about how the businesses can recycle in the jurisdiction. Also, jurisdictions can use their own websites or request updates to franchised or permitted haulers’ websites that provide information about the requirement to recycle and how businesses can recycle in the jurisdiction.
Regarding monitoring, the regulation allows for phased-in monitoring using existing mechanisms to inform the businesses of the requirement if they are not recycling. Some examples of monitoring include using the hauler’s sales representatives or annual business renewal license letters to inform businesses about AB 341, and/or using code enforcement officers that may already be visiting the business to provide information about recycling requirements. These are just a few examples of the different approaches that jurisdictions can take to monitor commercial recycling efforts.
For reporting, jurisdictions will use the existing Electronic Annual Report to inform CalRecycle staff about their education, outreach, and monitoring programs.
In addition to Mandatory Commercial Recycling, AB 341 sets a statewide goal for 75% disposal reduction by the year 2020. This is not written as a 75% diversion mandate for each jurisdiction.
The 50% disposal reduction mandate still stands for cities, counties, and State agencies (including community colleges) under AB 939 and AB 75, respectively. CalRecycle will continue to evaluate program implementation as it has in the past through the Annual Report review process for entities subject to either AB 939 or AB 75.
Similarly, AB 341 does not mandate a diversion goal for businesses; it simply requires that they implement a commercial recycling program.
The regulations do not impose additional requirements on businesses or local governments beyond what is required in statute. However, CalRecycle expects that implementation of the statute’s requirements (both for businesses and jurisdictions) will result in an estimated statewide average annual cost savings of $40 million to $60 million for the 2012 to 2020 time period. Furthermore, individual businesses may realize cost savings due to reduced rates for recycling services and avoided disposal costs.
Implementation of the proposed regulations is estimated to result in overall cost savings to California businesses during the 2012 through 2020 time frame. Previous studies on the economic impact of recycling versus disposal have found significant positive economic effects in California. The benefits from increased recycling will not only generate new jobs, but will also result in additional goods and services. CalRecycle expects that implementation of these regulations will increase the availability of recyclable materials, provide increased feedstock for recycled-content product manufacturers, and expand the opportunity for recycling manufacturing facilities and associated job creation in California.
Expanding and/or developing new recycling manufacturing infrastructure in California makes sense from a greenhouse gas emissions standpoint, as most emission reductions occur at the point of re-manufacturing and not at the origin of recycling. While some materials collected in California remain in the state for re-manufacturing, the majority of the recycled materials are shipped to other parts of the United States or to global markets. CalRecycle will continue to work with the Air Resources Board and other agencies on efforts to provide incentives for the enhancement of in-state recycling manufacturing.
As a result of increasing recycling, CalRecycle also expects that there will be reduced emissions of methane, air toxins, and criteria pollutants from landfills. Furthermore, diverting organic materials into compost products will result in positive impacts on soil and water quality.
The regulations also will help jurisdictions to develop or enhance commercial recycling programs, help the state to further reduce disposal at landfills, and assist in meeting the state’s new 75 percent diversion goal. The long-term results will be positive for all entities: