Organic Waste Recycling

Assembly Bill 1826 requires businesses, including multi-family buildings with five (5) or more units that generate a specific amount of organic waste per week (yard trimmings, food scraps, and food-soiled paper) to arrange for organics recycling and diversion services according according to a tiered implementation schedule.  These organic materials account for nearly one-third of the approximately 30 million tons of waste destined for California's landfills each year which could be used for soil amendments like compost and mulch.

What is Organic Waste?

  • Food scraps including all solid, semi-solid and liquid food such as fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, bones, poultry, seafood, bread, rice, pasta, tea bags, coffee filters and oils.
  • Food-soiled paper is uncoated paper that is soiled by food waste such as napkins, paper towels, paper cups, fast food wrappers and take out boxes, egg cartons, used pizza boxes, wax-coated cardboard and other paper and compostable food packaging.
  • Yard trimmings include grass clippings, leaves, flowers, hedge clippings and weeds.  Non-hazardous wood waste includes tree branches, tree trunks and untreated lumber.

Who is Required to Have Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling Services?

Effective January 1, 2016, AB 1826 (Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling) places requirements on businesses, multi-family residences and jurisdictions to divert organics, which consists of food waste, green waste and non-hazardous wood waste, out of the landfills.  Obligations for commercial organics recycling began on April 1, 2016 and will ramp up over the next four years as summarized in the table below:

*CY = cubic yards
Commencement Date
Requirements for Businesses and Multi-Family
Requirements for Jurisdictions
January 1, 2016
Implement organics recycling program for businesses and multi-family residences
April 1, 2016
Businesses with 8 CY /week + of organic material must recycle organics**
January 1, 2017
Businesses with 4 CY/week + of organic material must recycle organics**
January 1, 2019
Businesses with 4 CY /week + of solid waste must recycle organics**
January 1, 2020
Businesses with 2 CY /week + of solid waste** must recycle organics**

*"Businesses" includes multi-family residences with five (5) units or more; however, multi-family premises are not required to recycle food waste.
**This will only be applicable if CalRecycle determines that the statewide disposal of organic waste has not been reduced to 50% of the 2014 disposal level.

To summarize the table above, businesses with eight (8) cubic yards (CY) of organic waste must have an organics diversion program in place by April 1, 2016.  These identified businesses will have to source separate organic waste from non-organic waste and participate in a waste recycling service that includes collection and recycling of organic waste.  Businesses also have the option to self-haul its organic waste off-site for processing and recycling.

To Comply, Your Business Can:

  • Donate food to a food bank or other food rescue organization
  • Waste Not OC Coalition
  • Second Harvest of Orange County

  • Self-haul to a recycling or composting facility that accepts food waste like
    • West Valley Materials Recovery (909) 899-5501; and 
    • Burrtec - Robert A Nelson Facility (951) 786-0655
  • Subscribe to an organics collection program provided by CR&R Inc. and contact Karla Del Rosario at 

The businesses with 4 CY of organic waste would be expected to start organics recycling on or after January 1, 2017 and so forth.

CR&R began offering food waste recycling services for Laguna Niguel food establishments in early 2010 as part of a OC Waste and Recycling grant funded pilot commercial food waste recycling program from April 2010 - October 2011. Laguna Niguel was chosen among eight other Orange County cities to participate in the food waste composting program.  The Laguna Niguel food businesses that participated in this pilot program included Henry's Market Place, Fred's Mexican Cafe, Souplantation and Mimi's Cafe.  The total food waste tonnage diverted from these four businesses totaled 304.23 tons.

CR&R can assist with determining appropriate waste service levels for implementing the organics recycle program.