May 8 - CIWMB Workshop on Climate Change and Proposed Early Action

Yesterday, the CIWMB held an all-day workshop on climate change. In the first half of the day, the board listened to background information from different stakeholders on a variety of issues, ranging from landfill gas estimation and reduction methods to sequestration. CAW presented in the morning session, focusing on our involvement in the mechanics of AB 32 implementation and potential GHG reductions from recycling and composting. In the second half of the day, CIWMB staff presented their proposed early action measures to the board, and there was an opportunity for public comment.

There was a very strong public response to the measures, with many stakeholders (including CAW) calling on the board to address organics diversion in the EAMs. We believe that this is a critical addition to the proposed measures because organics stored in landfills are not only emitting methane, but are also being kept from uses that would result in significant greenhouse gas reductions. We made the point that along with the avoided landfill emissions, the composting of this material would result in carbon sequestration in larger crop biomass, a decrease in the need for GHG-releasing fertilizers and pesticides, and a decline in energy-intensive irrigation. The board would be well served by encouraging increased composting as a means to address the state's AB 32 goals and CIWMB’s Strategic Directives.

We also brought up our significant concerns regarding the proposed commercial recycling EAM (Measure 7). This measure has the potential to be a very strong action with many reciprocating societal and environmental benefits because commercial waste comprises approximately 65% of disposed waste. The proposed measure needs to be adequately defined and expanded to include all commercial waste, not just durable wholesale goods and retail stores, in order for it to be effective. There is sufficient data available about all commercial sources, and it is clear that the benefits of an expansive commercial recycling requirement would be far-reaching. If 35% of the commercial waste stream were recycled, this would result in a GHG reduction of over 5.8 MMTCO2E. This is equivalent to more than 1.25 million passenger cars not being driven every year.

We commend the board on including public comments and stakeholder input in the development of these early implementation proposals. Hopefully, yesterday’s workshop brought these areas for improvement to the board’s attention. We look forward to continuing to work with CIWMB staff and board members on this crucial issue.

Next step: This issue will be brought up at the July or August board meeting.