C&D Recycling Forum: California State of Mind

In the Golden State, the government is forcing the issue of landfill diversion.

October 5, 2012
CDR Staff
C&D Recycling Forum Legislation & Regulations


Carol Parker

As much as almost any other state in the country, legislators in California have put laws in place to encourage contractors and haulers to think recycling first and landfilling second.

Officials from two Southern California population centers as well a representative from state agency CalRecycle offered their views on how C&D materials diversion is faring as a result.

Carol Parker, an environmental engineer with the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, described that city’s response to the state’s C&D materials landfill diversion target (Assembly Bill 939, AB939).

Parker said the City tried a pilot program mandating waste management plans, but soon discovered that with two employees designated to review them, “When I looked at [doing this for] the whole city with just two people—we can’t do that.”

Instead, the City requires haulers of C&D materials to take their cargoes to one of 13 permitted recycling facilities in or near Los Angeles. The haulers also must be permitted to haul C&D materials.

Penalties for evading this system are considerable, she said. “As a result, we’ve got a lot more haulers thinking about where they take their materials.”

Ken Prue of the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department described that city’s response to AB939, which has taken the form of a deposit ordinance when construction permits are issued.

The contractor seeking a permit fills out a waste diversion plan and pays a deposit based on the scope of the project. According to Prue, if upon completion of the project contractors can prove a 50 percent diversion rate or higher, they receive a full refund. Refunds are also issued on a sliding scale, so a 44.7 percent diversion rate would equate to an 89.4 percent refund.

Speaker Greg Dick of CalRecycle, Sacramento, said the state’s cities and counties have been successfully complying with AB939, with “only two jurisdictions fined so far.”

Dick also gave an overview of statewide product stewardship programs for materials such as carpet and paint. Regarding carpet, Dick said it has been targeted because “it’s bulky and it takes up lots of space.”

He said the national association CARE (Carpet America Recovery Effort) “runs the program; the state is just the referee.” The carpet stewardship program is funded by a five cents-per-square yard tax paid by new carpeting purchasers.

The C&D Recycling Forum was Sept. 23-25 at the Hilton Long Beach & Executive Meeting Center, Long Beach, Calif.