This week, CalRecycle Director Rachel Machi Wagoner announced she will be stepping down from her role with the department effective March 5, 2024. The news comes amid grumblings at the State Legislature and elsewhere of discontent with the department’s direction under Wagoner’s leadership, particularly as CalRecycle has struggled to effectively implement new organics recycling mandates.  

Wagoner’s tenure began in December 2020 when Governor Gavin Newsom gave her the appointment, moving from her post as his deputy legislative secretary. The appointment surprised many at the time due to Wagoner’s lack of practical experience in the solid waste and recycling realm, which proved frustrating for RCRC and ESJPA members during the subsequent implementation of SB 1383 organics regulations. Wagner’s process also came under scrutiny by the state’s Little Hoover Commission (LHC), a nonpartisan review board charged with making recommendations to the Administration and Legislature. The 2023 LHC report on SB 1383 contradicted many of the policies and enforcement actions put in place under Wagoner’s leadership.  

Governor Newsom is now tasked with appointing Wagoner’s successor, who will inherit not only SB 1383 implementation, but the job of completing new measures to implement the state’s single-use plastics mandates.  

For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, Staci Heaton