On April 8th, RCRC-sponsored AB 2902 (Wood, D-Healdsburg) passed the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.  This measure seeks to provide additional flexibility to local governments and CalRecycle in implementing CalRecycle’s SB 1383 organic waste diversion regulations.  

AB 2902 extends the existing rural exemption under which the state’s 19 counties with fewer than 70,000 residents (and cities within those counties) are exempt from SB 1383’s collection and procurement obligations. Those 19 counties are Lake; San Benito; Tehama; Tuolumne; Calaveras; Siskiyou; Amador; Lassen; Glenn; Del Norte; Colusa; Inyo; Plumas; Mariposa; Trinity; Mono; Modoc; Sierra; and Alpine.  The bill also provides three years for rural jurisdictions that outgrow that population cap to come into full compliance with SB 1383.  

For slightly larger counties, AB 2902 allows the 12 “non-rural” counties that generate less than 200,000 tons of solid waste annually (El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Kings, Mendocino, Madera, Napa, Nevada, Shasta, Yuba, Sutter, and Yolo Counties) to submit an alternative organic waste management plan for most of their unincorporated areas to CalRecycle for approval.  That process is expected to provide more flexibility for CalRecycle to take into consideration and accommodate unique local needs and challenges.  

AB 2902 also seeks to provide more flexibility for CalRecycle to consider granting additional “elevation waivers” for areas below 4,500’ in elevation and where nearby bear populations pose a public safety and animal welfare risk.  Other components of AB 2902 seek to increase local benefits from edible food recovery programs; sustain the use of organics for local animal feed practices; promote carbon farming; adjust procurement targets to exclude populations covered by exemptions; facilitate the development of smaller-scale community composting programs; and reinforce existing caselaw that local compost and mulch give aways as well as rebates are not a gift of public funds.  

Amendments taken in the Natural Resources Committee extend the rural exemption for another ten years and allow CalRecycle to further extend those exemptions for additional periods of up to ten years each.  Other amendments clarify and improve the bill.  AB 2902 now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration. 

RCRC’s letter of support is available here.  RCRC appreciates the nearly two dozen counties and organizations that have submitted letters in support of AB 2902. For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, John Kennedy.