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AB 341 and AB 1826: Mandatory Organics Recycling

AB 1826, which went into effect on April 1, 2016, requires local jurisdictions across the state to implement an organic waste recycling program to divert organic waste generated by businesses and multi-family properties.

During the 1990s California passed the nation’s landmark solid waste law, AB 939 or the Integrated Waste Management Act, which sought to decrease the amount of municipal solid waste sent to landfills. It placed the responsibility for this diversion on California’s cities and counties.  Statewide diversion rates were estimated to be about 10%.  The law required this to be increased to 25% diversion by 1995, and up to 50% diversion by 2000.

In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown raised the bar even higher by passing AB 341, which set a 75% recycling goal for California by 2020 — the most ambitious in the nation.  The bill required businesses and multi-family dwellings that created more than 4 cubic yards per week of municipal solid waste to have a recycling plan in place. 

The bill did not specify how local jurisdictions were to achieve the reduction goal, but it recommend moving organics out of the landfill. This is what AB 1826 is finally addressing. So, while AB 341 suggested keeping organics out of the landfill would be a good idea, AB 1826 now mandates it.