CalRecycle Calls Out Municipal Officials

Has your city landed on CalRecycle’s naughty list?

In December 2017, many California communities received a notice of mandatory commercial recycling and mandatory commercial organics recycling program deficiencies from CalRecycle, the state agency that oversees recycling and solid waste.

The letters provided notification that CalRecycle had reviewed the cities’ compliance with California Assembly Bills 341 and 1826 and found it lacking.

AB 341 and AB 1826 are diversion efforts that require businesses, public entities and multi-family housing complexes to adopt recycling practices. In establishing the requirements for jurisdictions to implement mandatory commercial recycling programs through AB 341 and mandatory commercial organics recycling programs through AB 1826, the Legislature and Governor also set goals to increase recycling and reduce statewide solid waste disposal, according to CalRecycle. Specifically, AB 341 aims to reduce, recycle or compost 75 percent of waste by 2020 and AB 1826 aims to reduce organics disposal by 50 percent by 2020.

Both AB 341 and AB 1826 require local jurisdictions not only to conduct education, outreach and monitoring activities for these mandatory commercial recycling programs but also to report annually to CalRecycle.

The responsibility for this programming and reporting lies with cities.

“The process of developing a program and filing an annual report with CalRecycle previously was easy,” says Jeff Duhamel, CEO and Principal Consultant for MuniEnvironmental. “It was a matter of just checking the box for mailers, visits and other elements of implemented programs and processes.

“But,” he continues, “as new legislation has introduced new requirements, completing the annual report has become more complex.”

While some cities’ mandatory commercial recycling and mandatory commercial organics recycling programming is simple, other cities’ programming is progressive. Whichever the case, cities often assign both the logistics and communication to their local hauler. However, cautions Duhamel, leaving the hauler responsible for both programming and reporting is not unlike leaving the fox watching the hen house.

“The city—not the hauler—falls under the mandates,” he says. “When cities rely on their haulers to comply with and report to CalRecycle, and there are gaps in implementation, the city is the one that looks bad and is held accountable.”

Those cities with programmatic gaps have been referred to CalRecycle’s jurisdiction compliance unit for additional compliance review and given deadlines by which they must provide detailed plans to implement mandatory commercial recycling and mandatory commercial organics recycling programming, including milestones and expected implementation dates.

In many cases, cities that continue to violate the laws will be required to address the issue at a public meeting, during which the city will be either referred to CalRecycle’s enforcement unit for consideration of a compliance order or targeted for reassessment the following year.

“It’s an embarrassment,” says Duhamel. “Cities can be put on notice of noncompliance, required to respond in a public hearing and generally dragged through the mud.”

If your city received a notice of mandatory commercial recycling and mandatory commercial organics recycling program deficiencies from CalRecycle, please contact MuniEnvironmental today to secure support for fully addressing programmatic gaps and responding to the violation.

With proven expertise in the Solid Waste, Recycling and Stormwater Industries, the experienced professional staff of MuniEnvironmental provides consulting services to municipalities, governmental agencies and certain private sector businesses such as nonprofit organizations and associations, universities, hospitals and campus-style facilities attempting to implement mandated regulatory requirements while striving to preserve their leadership and administrative role with their contract service providers and the business community. MuniEnvironmental has helped municipal clients including the Cities of Bellflower, Corona, Garden Grove, Hawaiian Gardens, Industry, Irvine, Lomita, Paramount and Santa Fe Springs achieve recycling goals, reduce disposal costs, update ordinances and manage complicated franchise agreements.

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