Zero Waste Humboldt: New Laws for California Compost

February, 2016



 With millions of households in the United States struggling to have enough to eat, and millions of tons of food being tossed in the garbage, food waste is increasingly being seen as a serious environmental and economic issue.  

Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, and the food waste rots in landfills where it produces a significant portion of U.S. methane emissions.   More than a third of the waste disposed by Humboldt County is food and organic material.  

California has adopted five new composting laws to provide for or require commercial organics recycling, tax exemptions for recycling and composting equipment, detailing organics infrastructure, recycling and composting reporting, and composting promotion, according to CalRecycle, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.  

ZWH looks forward to working with local jurisdictions, entrepreneurs, and community groups to solve this waste problem.  Juliette Bohn and Morgan King’s presentations on “Food Waste Solutions” on October 29, 2015 clearly indicated that we have the know-how in this region.  

The new composting laws are intended to move California toward its 75 percent recycling goal by 2020, and to measure its progress as it reaches for this objective. CalRecycle is confident this will also boost the state economically.

“These new laws encourage innovation and strengthen California’s role as the nationwide leader     in sustainable living,” said CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline.  

This is a great opportunity for local public, private and community groups to pull together to resolve a major waste problem.  For more information and to get involved, email Erika Guevara Blackwell at


New California Composting Laws

  • AB 1826 requires businesses to set up recycling services, if they produce at least eight cubic yards of organic waste per week, beginning in April.
  • AB 199 provides businesses with tax exemptions as an allowance for recycling and composting equipment and expands the tax exclusion for recycled feedstock to make new products.
  • AB 876 requires local governments to report necessary organics infrastructure and locations for new or expanded infrastructure. Counties and agencies will need to forecast their estimated organic waste over a 15-year period.
  • AB 901 names CalRecycle as the overseer of existing disposal reporting requirements, and updates reporting requirements for recycling, composting and solid waste disposal facilities.
  • AB 1045 requires CalRecycle and other state agencies to develop and implement policies to divert organic waste from landfills and to promote uses for the material.



Californians Against Waste Director Speaks Locally

Zero Waste Humboldt invites the public to a presentation on “Legislative Action for California’s Zero Waste Solutions” on Friday, March 4, 5:30–7:00 p.m. at the Humboldt State University College Creek Great Hall.

Featured speaker Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste and HSU alum, will discuss Producer Responsibility—a core value in CAW’s development of legislative policies and incentives for manufacturers to reduce toxicity and waste, design for recyclability, increase use of recycled materials, and recommend steps for local Zero Waste Action Plans. 

A $10 donation is requested at the door. 

For information or to RSVP,