New California law aims to reduce red tape around state sustainability mandates
- California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill, AB 1572, into law in an effort to streamline the compliance review process for multiple state sustainability mandates. The bill was considered a priority by the California Department of Resources and Recycling Recovery (CalRecycle).
- Under a previous law, CalRecycle was required to review waste diversion compliance plans from cities, counties and regional agencies every two or four years until 2018. In 2018, the review schedule would have been changed to every two years. The new law extends the current review system until 2022 and gives CalRecycle the opportunity to make any recommendations on necessary revisions to the process before then.
- According to CalRecycle, only 14 out of about 500 jurisdictions are currently on the two-year schedule. This bill was supported by the Los Angeles County Integrated Waste Management Task Force, which includes LA Sanitation among its membership. San Francisco and San Diego did not take official positions on the bill.
Complying with California's big environmental goals requires ongoing work for both state and local agencies. This all started with the California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989, which established a review and enforcement system with regular reporting requirements on diversion progress. In 2008, a new state law changed that metric to track waste disposal and allowed districts that are in compliance to switch to a four-year reporting schedule. CalRecycle has since become responsible for enforcing the state goals of 75% landfill diversion by 2020, and reducing organic waste disposal 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025.
Based on a jurisdiction's per capita disposal rate, CalRecycle has historically decided whether to review their progress on a two-year or four-year cycle. If "good faith" efforts are being made the agency may give jurisdictions a pass even if they aren't on track, but if not they could enforce a compliance schedule and potentially issue fines of up to $10,000 per day. Recognizing that this process can be time-consuming for all involved, the new law is intended to "allow good-actor local governments to avoid unnecessary compliance review" and give CalRecycle more flexibility.
CalRecycle told Waste Dive that it hadn't received any complaints from compliant jurisdictions about the review process, so extending the option for longer windows appears to have been geared toward streamlining operations at the agency itself. In a state known for its aggressive sustainability targets, and the regulations that come with them, this may be a recognition that progress is often more important than paperwork.
- California State Legislature AB 1572
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