Skip to content
Home > Articles > California Adopts 75% Recycling Goal

California Adopts 75% Recycling Goal

By Jeff Simeon Oct 06, 2011 - Clean-Ups, Recycle

California has always been a national leader in the recycling movement. One reason why is that in 1989 a statewide bill mandated that cities and counties divert at least 50% of their solid waste from landfills by 2000. Yesterday, on October 6, 2011 the state got a new goal of 75%!

In Santa Barbara County, we have been at or close to a 75% diversion rate for the last few years.  This bill challenges the rest of California to reach our recycling level. It also challenges us to keep up our great track record and continue to expand recycling opportunities in Santa Barbara County.

A major part of Assembly Bill (AB) 341, which sets this 75% diversion goal, is a mandatory commercial recycling regulation.  Read below for a summary of the major parts of this bill or you can read the official bill, AB 341.

California’s Mandatory Commercial Recycling Regulation

As part of Assembly Bill (AB) 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, the State of California has included a mandatory commercial recycling regulation (AB 341), requiring all cities and counties in California to establish and implement a commercial recycling program by July 1, 2012.  Under AB 341, businesses that generate four cubic yards or more of trash each week are subject to this law.  Besides businesses, the regulation applies to the following public agencies:

  • Federal, state, local, and regional agencies or facilities
  • School districts and schools
  • Special districts
  • Community colleges
  • California State Universities
  • Universities of California and
  • Military facilities

Multi-family dwellings (e.g. apartments, condominiums, and mobile home parks) with five or more units are also subject to the law.  A jurisdiction must provide education, outreach, and monitoring of agencies subject to this regulation.

For more information on the State’s mandatory commercial recycling regulation, please click here:

Below is a press release from Californians Against Waste, announcing the signing of AB 341.

From the Californians Against Waste:

Governor Jerry Brown today signed legislation establishing the most ambitious recycling goal in the nation for California, at the same time enacting incentives aimed at increasing recycled material processing and manufacturing in-state. Together, this strategy is aimed at creating more than 60,000 green jobs in the state over the next 8 years.

Assembly Bill 341 by Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro  (D – North Coast) sets a 75 percent recycling goal for California by 2020­the most ambitious in the nation. Additionally, the measure requires every commercial business, institution and apartment building to implement recycling programs.

Assembly Bill 1149 by Assembly Member Rich Gordon (D – Menlo Park) will provide market-based incentives of $10-$20 million annually to processors and manufacturers of recycled plastic.

“Recycling is a powerful fuel that helps propel California’s engine,” said Assembly Member Wes Chesbro. “California’s commitment to recycling has created 125,000 new jobs over the past two decades. The industry generates $4 billion a year in salaries and produces $10 billion worth of goods and services annually.”

“AB 341 expands on the law passed 21 years ago that made California the nation’s leader in recycling. Not only do we create more green jobs, we protect the environment and conserve energy by reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.”

Chesbro’s AB 341 builds on the success of AB 939, the California Integrated Waste Management Act passed in 1989. The then ground-breaking legislation set ambitious recycling targets and helped develop California’s extensive recycling infrastructure. AB 341 expands on that success by requiring businesses, institutions and apartment buildings to subscribe to recycling service and establishing a new statewide goal of source reducing, recycling or composting 75 percent of the waste we generate by 2020.

“Recycling’s a proven job creator,” said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste. “Assembly Member Chesbro’s AB 341 targets the 15 million tons of recyclables that the commercial sector and apartments still send to landfills every year. By collecting, processing and manufacturing these materials into new products, AB 341 has the potential to create a net total of nearly 60,000 jobs.”

Assembly Member Gordon’s AB 1149 takes a market-based approach to ensuring that California realizes that full economic as well as environmental benefit of our recycling efforts.

“When we ship used soda and water bottles to China, we are exporting thousands of jobs overseas that could just as readily exist in California if the appropriate investments were set up to support it,” said Assemblyman Rich Gordon, who chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee that oversees all natural resource agencies. “AB 1149 builds on the success of the Plastic Market Development program and will create and support thousands of jobs while helping our environment.”

Under the Bottle Bill program, Californians annually collect about 500 million pounds of plastic beverage containers for recycling. Historically, more than 80 percent of these containers have been shipped overseas for processing and recycling into new products.

“California has been the banana republic to China,” said Murray. “We dutifully clean up and collect billions of used soda and water bottles and ship them off to China at a loss. They add labor and value processing them into the polyester clothing and accessories that they sell back to us at Target and Banana Republic.”

“Today, the plastic market program directly supports more than 750 jobs. But we are collecting enough plastic to support 4 to 5 times that many jobs. AB 1149 creates the incentives and the potential for hundreds, if not thousands of new jobs.”

Both bills were sponsored by the environmental group Californians Against Waste and ultimately had broad support from recyclers, reclaimers, waste haulers, local governments, plastic product manufacturers, retailers, beverage industry and environmental groups.

This article was written by the Californians Against Waste (CAW). Founded in 1977, Californians Against Waste is a non-profit environmental research and advocacy organization that identifies, develops, promotes and monitors policy solutions to pollution and conservation problems posing a threat to public health and the environment. Californians Against Waste's history has demonstrated it to be the nation's oldest, largest and most effective non-profit environmental organization advocating for the implementation of waste reduction and recycling policies and programs.

Related Materials