by David Davis, President, MSW Consultants
As CalRecycle rolls out California’s massive organics recycling law (SB 1383), policymakers must decide who should retain control of the information crucial to the success of this new endeavor; private companies, or local governments. As creators of software that can be used by either private waste haulers, or by cities and counties, we find that the ultimate control over this information must be retained by local governments. This is especially true because local governments are ultimately responsible for the success of this gargantuan project. What follows is a little background, and some reasons for our finding.
Private Sector Will Do Much of the Heavy Lifting
In 2016, the State set in motion the most significant change in 30 years to the way Californians handle their solid waste. The ultimate goal of SB 1383 is to re-direct and recover 75% of organic material (over 17 million tons each and every year) that was previously landfilled.
Beginning in 2022, essentially all commercial and multi-family waste generators will be required to participate in organics recycling. The State will require local governments to enforce these new regulations, and charge penalty fines on non-compliant businesses.
The new organics recycling regulations will require billions of dollars of new facilities, millions of new organics recycling containers, and thousands of hours of management and technical expertise. Like many large public endeavors, local governments will look to the private sector to do much of the heavy lifting.
Local Jurisdictions are Ultimately Responsible
The vast majority of California jurisdictions will depend on their franchised waste hauler to invest the capital, furnish the labor, and design the programs needed to redirect this vast amount of organic material away from landfills, and into composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. To reimburse private waste haulers for these new programs, local jurisdictions across the State have been forced to hike fees paid by ratepayers.
While the private sector will undertake much of the work, the State has placed ultimate responsibility for compliance on local governments. Cities and counties that fail to successfully implement the new recycling regulations face stiff penalties from the State.
While they may delegate much of work to private waste companies, local jurisdictions must retain control over key aspects of this new endeavor to ensure success. This is especially true when it comes to retaining control over the information that CalRecycle will need to verify that local jurisdictions have successfully fulfilled their obligations under SB 1383.
Success Depends on Data
The information tracking requirements of the new regulations are myriad. CalRecycle will require jurisdictions to monitor and record everything from the amount of recovered edible food, to the recycling compliance of individual waste generators. According to the new law, jurisdictions will be required to monitor and report on:
CalRecycle will evaluate the success of each jurisdiction solely based on the information they collect and report.
The Role of Private Waste Haulers in Providing Data
To collect this needed information, jurisdictions will necessarily rely on their waste haulers to provide data on an ongoing basis. In many cases, cities are dependent upon their franchised waste haulers to provide customer routing and billing data, including the number and size of containers, and the type and quantity of material collected.
However, private haulers are not suited to perform many of the customer-specific functions mandated by SB 1383. These functions include granting customer waivers, documenting customers that self-haul their organics, and determining which customers will be subject to enforcement actions.
Granting of Customer Waivers
SB 1383 allows jurisdictions to grant waivers to individual customers due to circumstances such as minimal waste generation, and lack of physical space. Customers with waivers will not be required to subscribe to recycling service from the franchised waste hauler. Jurisdictions are required to monitor customers waste generation characteristics, and obligated to rescind any waivers for customers whose circumstances change. The jurisdiction must administer the granting and rescission of waivers on a customer-by-customer basis. The determination of which customers qualify for waivers will necessarily entail a certain degree of subjectivity. SB 1383 specifically prohibits jurisdictions from delegating the authority to grant (and rescind) waivers to private companies. As a result, local jurisdictions must retain control of information about the granting of customer waivers.
Documenting Customers that Self-haul their Organics
SB 1383 allows customers to comply with the law by self-hauling their organics in lieu of subscribing to recycling service from the franchised waste hauler. SB 1383 requires these customers to track the amount of self-hauled material, and record the names of the facilities to which the material was transported. The law requires local jurisdictions to collect this information from self-haulers as part of the required SB 1383 annual compliance reviews. Because they are not involved in their customers’ organic self-haul activities, private waste haulers do not have a role in collecting or maintaining information about their customers’ self-haul practices. As a result, local jurisdictions must retain control of information about customers that self-haul their recyclables.
Determining which Customers will be Subject to Enforcement
SB 1383 requires jurisdictions to amend their municipal codes and adopt inspection and enforcement programs to ensure compliance. This will entail a system of annual customer reviews, due process, and administrative penalties. While the enforcement process will be dependent on information provided by the franchised waste hauler, private waste haulers are not suited to assess civil penalties upon their customers. The local jurisdiction must undertake the enforcement role. SB 1383 specifically prohibits jurisdictions from delegating the authority to impose civil penalties to private waste haulers. As a result, local governments must control the information needed to fairly enforce the law.
Jurisdictions Must Retain Control Over SB 1383 Compliance Data
Recovering 17 million tons per year of organics from the California waste stream is a daunting task. Like many major public-private partnerships, it will require a team effort among all stakeholders including CalRecycle, facility operators, private waste haulers, local governments, and waste generators.
Due to the way the law is structured, local governments are ultimately responsible for the success of the project, which will be determined solely based on the myriad of data coming at local governments. Therefore, to fulfill their responsibility, local governments must retain control over SB 1383 compliance data.
About David Davis
David Davis is the President of MSW Consultants, a solid waste consulting firm located in Southern California. He has provided solid waste consulting service to over 60 local governments in the areas of finance, economics, public policy, and regulatory compliance.
MSW Consultants creates software solutions that make recycling compliance and enforcement easy for California jurisdictions. Our goal is to help California jurisdictions become more sustainable by making it easier for them to ensure that local businesses comply with the State’s mandatory commercial recycling laws.
Minerva® is our cloud-based software platform. It enables California jurisdictions to monitor, manage, and report on the recycling activities of their commercial waste generators. You can learn more about Minerva® here:
MSW Consultants also provides consulting services exclusively to local governments. These include SB 1383 planning and assistance, hauler compliance audits, customer cost of service and rate studies, customer outreach, procurement and negotiation assistance, and regulatory compliance. You can learn more about MSW Consultants here: