Aug 25 - Senate Sends Governor Bill to Include Compost Facilities in Local Planning

Planning Would Help State Transition from Landfilling Food Scraps and Yard Trimmings to Composting

SACRAMENTO – The Senate voted yesterday to pass AB 876, authored by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), which requires local governments to plan for the building of sufficient composting infrastructure to process the organic waste generated in their jurisdictions over a 15-year period.

“I am pleased that this effort to take organic material out of landfills is one step closer to being fully realized,” said Assembly Member McCarty.

“It is clear that we have much better uses for our food scraps and yard trimmings than to let them rot in landfills and contribute to climate change,” said Nick Lapis, Legislative Coordinator for Californians Against Waste. “AB 876 moves the state one step closer to healthier soils and a healthier climate.”

Local governments have long been required to plan for 15 years of disposal capacity to avoid running out of landfill space, but, as the state begins to successfully divert organic waste from landfills, it is becoming increasingly important to plan for the composting and anaerobic digestion facilities that will be necessary to handle this material.

“We celebrate the passage of AB 876, which acknowledges that California jurisdictions need to plan for organics capacity, at least as much as they do for landfill capacity,” said Matt Cotton, Board Member for Californians Against Waste.

Nearly two-thirds of the material that Californians send to landfills is plant-based and nearly half is compostable or digestible. Not only is recovering this material an indispensable part of the state’s goal of recycling 75% of California’s waste, but it is also crucial to the state’s climate efforts.

Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (Center)

Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (Center)

The Air Resources Board has set a goal of "effectively eliminating disposal of organic waste at landfills" by 2025 to prevent landfill methane emissions, and Governor Jerry Brown has established a “Healthy Soil Initiative” to increase the use of compost to increase water retention and remove carbon from the atmosphere. In addition, CAW-sponsored legislation passed last year will require businesses to separate their organic waste (AB 1826, Chesbro) and local governments to find new uses for yard trimmings that had been previously sent to landfills (AB 1594, Williams).

AB 876 will require local governments, beginning August 1, 2017, to play a larger role in achieving these goals by requiring them to assess the amount of organic waste that will be generated in a region over a 15-year period, and identify locations for new or expanded organic waste recycling facilities capable of handling this material.

The bill now heads to desk of Governor Jerry Brown.