Businesses and Apartment Buildings Are

Required to Do Mandatory Organics Recycling

Food waste gives off methane gas and by California law must now be recycled.

A new state law, AB 1826, makes commercial organics recycling mandatory. The law came into effect on January 1, and it has been slowly rolled out throughout Los Angeles. This fall, commercial businesses and multi-unit family apartment buildings in Pacific Palisades will be required to recycle organics, including food and landscape waste.

This bill affects only commercial/apartment/condo buildings. The City of L.A. is not participating in organic waste recycling on the residential level.

Athens Services Recycling Coordinators Ryan Robles and Susan Houlden and Government Affairs Engagement Coordinator Amanda Mejia spoke at the Business Improvement District meeting on September 4 to explain the process to board members, who represent town businesses.

Robles and Houlden will also visit individual restaurant and store owners and explain the new law and its requirements. Businesses and apartment buildings will receive a new bin, which is to be used specifically for organic waste.

Athens will offer food training about what goes in the bin and also provide signage of approved compost materials.

“We’re creating the best plan we can for each business,” Mejia said.

AB 1826 was passed in 2014, requiring a business that generates four cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week, on and after January 1, 2019, “to arrange for organic waste recycling services.”

The law states that “On or after January 1, 2020, if the department determines that statewide disposal of organic waste has not been reduced to 50 percent of the level of disposal during 2014, a business that generates two cubic yards or more per week of commercial solid waste shall arrange for the organic waste recycling services.”

Businesses (and multi-family units) will be expected to put the following compost items into the bin: grass clippings, flower and hedge trimmings, leaves and branches and weeds, plus food scraps such as bread, rice, pasta, cheese, dairy, coffee filters, coffee grounds, flowers and herbs, fruits and vegetables, meat, bones, poultry and seafood.

Certain food-soiled paper (100 percent plant-fiber based with NO plastic, wax or bio-plastic coating) which includes egg cartons, food-stained paper, paper napkins, kitchen towels, paper foot boats, paper plates and cups, and pizza boxes, may also be placed in the bin.

The processing plant for organic waste is in Victorville.

BID President Rick Lemmo (a senior VP at Caruso) said he thought that food was one of the things that composted and wondered why that wasn’t okay in landfill. Mejia explained that food composting in landfill produces methane gases.

Another law (SB 1383), the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Law, targets reduction of methane emissions from landfills by requiring a 50 percent reduction of statewide disposal of organic waste (from 2014 levels) by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. It also requires that a target of 20 percent of currently disposed edible food is recovered for human consumption by 2025.

Mejia was asked if it would include an added cost to businesses/condos/apartment buildings. The answer is yes, but the cost will vary. The hope is that the food currently thrown into the black bin will lessen and the cost for emptying those bins will decrease.

Will there be a fine if people are not complying? “The only fine will be the cost of an overweight black bin,” Mejia said. “It will be $111 each time it happens.”

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