RCRC reluctantly withdrew its support for Senate Bill 619, authored by Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), in light of amendments adopted on September 3.  SB 619 currently allows local governments to come into compliance with SB 1383 organic waste recycling regulations by January 1, 2023 without being subject to penalties by CalRecycle, if certain conditions are met.  

RCRC had been working diligently with Senator Laird and other local government associations throughout the year to provide local governments with clarifications and regulatory and enforcement relief from some of the looming deadlines associated with CalRecycle’s new organic waste recycling regulations. Those regulations require the state to reduce landfill disposal of organic waste 75 percent by 2025 and to increase edible food waste recovery 20 percent.

RCRC was very pleased when Senator Laird amended SB 619 on August 30 to provide much needed relief to rural jurisdictions. Those amendments would have:  1) Established a residential de minimis waiver process; and, 2) Required generators to self-haul in lieu of the local jurisdiction providing collection service where the jurisdiction finds, based on substantial evidence, that it would be exceptionally difficult, impractical, or impossible to provide mandatory organic waste collection services because of safety and access issues.

The August 30th amends were of tremendous benefit to rural jurisdictions.  While the SB 1383 organic waste recycling regulations allow jurisdictions to issue de minimis waivers to commercial generators, there is no similar provision allowing the issuance of de minimis waivers for residential generators. SB 619 would have addressed this oversight.  Moreover, the new organic waste regulations require local jurisdictions to provide collection service to all residents; however, this ignores the reality many rural communities face where some areas are inaccessible to solid waste collection trucks. The August 30 amendments provided a much-needed refinement that recognizes that universal route collection is not suitable in all areas of the state and allows locals to require residents in those areas to self-haul their organic waste in lieu of having to provide collection service.

Some stakeholders raised a legitimate concern that ambiguity with the drafting of the August 30 amendments could have been interpreted to enable CalRecycle to further restrict self-hauling in other contexts. This was not the intent and RCRC worked hard with other jurisdictions to convince Senator Laird to either adopt refinements or add intent language to resolve that problem.  CalRecycle resisted those efforts and the author declined to adopt intent language clarifying the matter.  Instead, SB 619 was amended on September 3 to remove the provisions of the bill that provide the greatest benefit to rural areas. With those provisions removed, RCRC reluctantly removed its support for the bill, arguing that the amendments do not reflect a desire by the Legislature to deny such relief to rural jurisdictions, but instead reflect an inability to resolve those issues in the limited time remaining.

RCRC’s letter of support for SB 619 can be accessed here and its letter removing support in response to the September 3, 2021 amendments can be found here.  For more information, please contact RCRC Legislative Advocate, John Kennedy.