On March 8, CalRecycle began the formal rulemaking process for regulations to implement SB 54 (Allen) of 2022.  This measure requires manufacturers of single use packaging and food service ware to take responsibility for the management and recycling of the products they introduce into the stream of commerce.  

CalRecycle’s notice can be found here, the proposed regulatory text can be found here, and the Initial Statement of Reasons can be found here

CalRecycle’s filing of the regulations with the Office of Administrative Law triggers a 45-day public review and comment period.  RCRC and the Rural Counties’ Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority (ESJPA) will work with other stakeholders and local government organizations to review the regulations and provide formal comments and suggested modifications to CalRecycle.   

As RCRC previously noted:  “SB 54 marks a tremendous paradigm shift for solid waste management in California, where local governments have traditionally borne the full responsibility for achieving the state’s solid waste management and recycling directives…In particular, SB 54 requires single use packaging manufacturers to ensure that covered material is recyclable or compostable, create and fund end markets, and bear responsibility for costs incurred by local agencies and recycling service providers associated with the collection, storage, handling, and marketing of those products.  The measure is clear that the Legislature intends to ensure that local jurisdictions will be made financially whole for any new costs incurred associated with the measure.”   

Under SB 54, all local jurisdictions must include those covered materials CalRecycle determines to be recyclable or compostable in their collection and recycling/composting programs, unless they receive an exemption or extension from CalRecycle.  Pursuant to SB 54, CalRecycle was required to determine what categories of covered materials are recyclable and compostable – that list is found here.  Importantly, those 19 counties with fewer than 70,000 residents (and cities within those counties) may exempt themselves from this requirement.   Locals are not precluded from collecting additional materials not included on that list.   

SB 54 was specifically drafted to avoid many of the pitfalls associated with SB 1383 (organic waste recycling) and ensure that local governments will be reimbursed by the producer responsibility organization for any associated implementation costs.  That reimbursement process and mechanism have not yet been established and will likely occur through direct discussions with the Circular Action Alliance (the producer responsibly organization selected by CalRecycle to implement SB 54’s requirements) rather than through the formal rulemaking process. 

For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, John Kennedy.