H003 - Sustainability 1.2

Organics Bans and Landfill Diversion Regulation

The impact and importance of organic waste diversion legislation

"Organics bans and waste recycling laws are outcome-oriented, rather than process-oriented, which allows businesses or residents to choose how they will prevent food waste or keep food out of the landfill."

Waste management and landfill capacities are currently experiencing tremendous strains. Resources, pollution, land, and cost are causing states and local municipalities to examine environmentally-friendly practices of reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfills. Many state and local governments are setting aggressive waste diversion goals and implementing waste diversion bans to help ease the impact on the environment.

Published by BioCycle, the article “Fresh Look At Organics Bans And Waste Recycling Laws” written by Emily Broad Leib, Christina Rice, and Jill Mahoney, discusses the importance and role of legislation in diverting food waste from landfills.  The article states, “There are great opportunities for food waste reduction at the federal level, but much can be done by states and localities, whose involvement in finding solutions to food waste and food recovery is vital. In recent years, states and localities have taken many steps to reduce food waste and enhance food recovery by providing state tax incentives to food donors, allocating funding to support food recovery and diversion infrastructure, reevaluating how schools handle food waste, and passing laws that ban organic waste from landfills.”

Research has shown that getting federal, state and local governments involved in waste disposal can have a significant impact on the community. 

C037 G2E 1.1 Waste Diversion
Los Angeles, California

In 2014, California passed the Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (MORe) law requiring businesses to recycle their organic waste depending on the amount of waste they produce.

The article explains, “Organics bans and waste recycling laws are outcome-oriented, rather than process-oriented, which allows businesses or residents to choose how they will prevent food waste or keep food out of the landfill. Both types of laws require “food waste generators” — the businesses, institutions, households, and other entities that create food waste — to reduce their food waste and make sure it is not being sent to a landfill. They both can help encourage food businesses to use their excess food as a resource by diverting it to higher uses. For example, after Vermont implemented an organics ban, the Vermont Food Bank saw food donations increase by 60 percent the following year.”

In 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (MORe) bill in order to take the next step toward achieving California’s aggressive recycling and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals. The bill requires businesses to recycle their organic waste on and after April 1, 2016, depending on the amount of waste they generate per week. The law phases in the requirements for businesses over time as follows:

  • January 1, 2016: Local jurisdictions shall have an organic waste recycling program in place. Jurisdictions shall conduct outreach and education to inform businesses how to recycle organic waste in the jurisdiction, as well as monitoring to identify those not recycling and to notify them of the law and how to comply.
  • April 1, 2016: Businesses that generate 8 cubic yards of organic waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
  • January 1, 2017: Businesses that generate 4 cubic yards of organic waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
  • August 1, 2017 and Ongoing: Jurisdictions shall provide information about their organic waste recycling program implementation in the annual report submitted to CalRecycle. (See above for description of information to be provided.)
  • Fall 2018: After receipt of the 2017 annual reports submitted on August 1, 2018, CalRecycle shall conduct its formal review of those jurisdictions that are on a two-year review cycle.
  • January 1, 2019: Businesses that generate 4 cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week shall arrange for organic waste recycling services.
  • Fall 2020: After receipt of the 2019 annual reports submitted on August 1, 2020, CalRecycle shall conduct its formal review of all jurisdictions.
  • Summer/Fall 2021: If CalRecycle determines that the statewide disposal of organic waste in 2020 has not been reduced by 50 percent of the level of disposal during 2014, the organic recycling requirements on businesses will expand to cover businesses that generate 2 cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week. Additionally, certain exemptions may no longer be available if this target is not met.

As a result of these bans and goals, businesses and food waste producing facilities need a sustainable, yet cost-effective method of limiting the amount of waste they produce and dispose of. The Grind2Energy food waste recycling system can help businesses comply with state and local waste disposal regulations while improving their operational efficiency at the same time. 

Leib, Emily Broad; Mahoney, Jill; Rice, Christina. “Fresh Look At Organics Bans and Waste Recycling Laws.” BioCycle, 10 Nov. 2016, www.biocycle.net/2016/11/10/fresh-look-organics-bans-waste-recycling-laws/. Accessed 24 July 2017.

State of California"Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (MORe)." CalRecycle, 9 May 2017, www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Recycle/Commercial/Organics/. Accessed 27 July 2017.

About Emerson
Emerson (NYSE: EMR), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial, and residential markets. Our Emerson Automation Solutions business helps process, hybrid, and discrete manufacturers maximize production, protect personnel and the environment while optimizing their energy and operating costs. Our Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions business helps ensure human comfort and health, protect food quality and safety, advance energy efficiency, and create sustainable infrastructure. For more information visit Emerson.com.

*Articles are intended for general consumer understanding and education only. Every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items and statistics used by Grind2Energy. However, claims, specifications and statistics offered by external sources, authors, or referenced articles have not been checked or verified. Users are always urged to independently check on matters of interest, and source material is properly cited for user’s reference.

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