AB 1985 signed into law, giving cities more time to comply with organic waste procurement requirements

Sep 21, 2022

Cities now have an additional two years to comply with the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery’s (CalRecyle) SB 1383 organic waste diversion procurement requirements with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of AB 1985 (R. Rivas).

Signed into law in 2016, SB 1383 calls for a dramatic reduction in the amount of food, yard, and other organic waste that is thrown away in order to reduce methane, a climate super polluter. As part of those regulations, cities must procure recycled organic products.

As of Jan. 1, 2022, all cities are required to be in full compliance with their SB 1383 regulation procurement requirements. However, due to the lack of statewide organic waste processing infrastructure, not all cities are in full compliance. AB 1985 creates a two-year phase-in period for cities to meet their procurement requirement targets.

The League of California Cities, along with other local government and waste associations, played a critical role in securing the bill’s passage.

Mulch, compost, and renewable natural gas — oh my!

SB 1383 requires every city to procure a specific amount of compost, mulch, or renewable natural gas from anaerobic digestion to develop a California-specific market for such material. This requirement is intended to spur the development of the compost and anaerobic digestion infrastructure in the state, which is necessary for cities and counties to comply with the full SB 1383 regulations.

Cal Cities and its partners worked collaboratively with Asm. Robert Rivas, his staff, and CalRecycle to develop a compromise bill that recognized the lack of needed organic waste processing infrastructure, while also balancing the need to implement the important methane reducing law.

Methane is 84 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. Reducing this short-lived pollutant is one of the fastest ways to reduce the effects of climate change.

There are outstanding issues surrounding the procurement requirements — such as counting material processed out of state towards the procurement requirements. Discussions about these issues with CalRecycle, the Legislature, and stakeholders are ongoing.

Looking forward

Now that AB 1985 is law, local governments will have until Jan. 1, 2025, to fully implement their city's procurement requirements. Continued city engagement with Cal Cities and CalRecycle will be critical to the successful implementation of these regulations. Cities are also encouraged to continue communicating with Cal Cities staff on how the implementation process is going.

For more information about organic waste regulations, please contact Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Derek Dolfie.