AB 2137 (Chesbro, 2009-10) Compost Labeling

AB 2137 would allow composters to continue the longstanding practice of providing certified lab analyses showing the nutrient contents of their product to their customers, pending the completion of CDFA’s evaluation of the proper regulatory standards for this material. 

Position and Status
CAW Supports. This bill died with the close of the legislative session.


Compost is a vital agricultural input that helps build healthy soils and increase crop yields. The production of compost from municipal organic waste is also a key component of the state’s waste reduction and recycling efforts. Furthermore, the diversion of organic waste from landfills and increased agricultural use of compost have both been identified as crucial greenhouse gas reduction strategies.

As a voluntary best management practice and in conjunction with various certification programs, composters regularly send samples of their product to third-party labs for an independent analysis of the nutrient content and other parameters in their compost. The results of recent lab analyses are often provided to customers as an indication of nutrient levels in the compost and to allow for the application of compost and other inputs at agronomic rates. 

The nutrient content of finished compost is subject to significant variability based on the composition of incoming waste feedstocks, weather conditions, and the level of ongoing biological processes at work. As a result, nutrient levels determined in these voluntarily-provided lab analyses fluctuate, limiting any guarantee that the nutrient content for a given batch of finished compost will remain static over time.

CDFA has said that providing a laboratory analysis is equivalent to making a labeling claim, and the compost product would have to maintain consistent nutrient levels to comply with the labeling requirements. While this standard is appropriate for traditional fertilizers, it can not be meaningfully applied to the product of an inherently variable biological process such as composting.

AB 2137 would clarify that providing a certified lab analysis that shows the historical nutrient content of compost does not constitute making a label claim for the material, so long as the lab analysis is a representative sample of the material being sold and a disclaimer is provided along with the analysis. This bill would sunset at the end of 2013.

California Bio-Mass, Inc.
California Compost Coalition
Californians Against Waste
Community Recycling & Resource Recovery
Comgro Soil Amendments, Inc.
Lopez Ag Service
Nortech Waste
Republic Services, Inc.
Tracy Delta Solid Waste Management, Inc. 
Tulare County Compost and Biomass, Inc.
Zanker Road Resource Management, Ltd.
Z-Best Products

CAW Staff Contacts.
Nick Lapis (916) 443-5422

Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro 
State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814



Current Language, Analyses and Votes.