Alternative Daily Cover

Landfill operators are required to cover the active face of the landfill at the end of every day to prevent odors and risks to public health. The traditional material used for this purpose is soil. The next day, more garbage is placed on the soil and so it goes.

Operators have found that other materials such as processed green waste, auto shredder fluff, and tarps can also be used for this same purpose. These alternative cover materials are called Alternative Daily Cover (ADC).

Under AB 939, the state's waste reduction and recycling law the use of alternative daily cover is counted as recycling, and the materials are not considered "landfilled."

Californians Against Waste has no objection to the use of secondary materials, including green waste, for use as ADC or for other beneficial uses when other onsite materials are unavailable. We do remain strongly opposed to the concept of providing diversion credit for green waste that is used as ADC or for other beneficial uses at landfills.

There are valuable environmentally and economically beneficial markets for green waste and other woody waste materials that are being undermined by the use of these materials as landfill cover.

The use of green waste landfill cover increased from 1.9 million tons in 2001 to 2.4 million tons in 2003, an increase of over 20% in two years. During the same period compost production in California decreased almost 30%. A recent study on compost markets commissioned by the CIWMB reported that 46% of the state's collected green waste went to landfill cover, while only 16% was composted. The report also concluded that "ADC (landfill cover) use continues to rise and undoubtedly is having an effect on the viability of the compost market."

The initial rationale for providing diversion credit for green waste used as landfill cover was to create an incentive for collection at a time when end use markets for green waste composting remained uncertain. However today, the infrastructure has fully matured, and far from providing any benefit to the green waste composting infrastructure, the continued provision of diversion credit for the use of green waste as landfill cover threatens the very existence of the composting industry in California.

Despite the state's policy to promote green waste composting, landfill cover has become the predominant end market for green waste.

  • Check out this video on ADC.
  • Contribute to CAW to help us fund efforts to eliminate diversion credit for greenwaste used as landfill cover.


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Food Waste as ADC

Does anyone know if there is any word on whether the landfills are able to use residential food waste as ADC? I know that more and more cities are allowing food waste to be collected in their green waste carts, are the hauler's required to separate the food waste before using it as ADC?


Food Waste As ADC

It is against California Law to use food waste as ADC. Landfill operators are required to cover the active face of the
landfill at the end of every day to prevent odors and risks to public
health. Using foodwaste as ADC would defeat that purpose.