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New law pushing for 75% cut in commercial waste

April 9, 2012

The new Mandatory Commercial Recycling Law seeks to reduce landfill waste by 75 percent through source reduction, recycling and composting. Local private and county entities are offering business and rental property owners compliance help at no charge. Photo by Marilyn Blake Philip

A mandatory commercial recycling law, seeking to reduce California’s solid waste by 75 percent through source reduction, recycling and composting, will change the way businesses and residents take out their trash.
In order to help business- and multifamily dwelling-owners comply with the new law, Sierra Conservation Project is offering a free start-up recycling program. Inyo County Integrated Waste Management is offering education, outreach and information as part of mandates of Assembly Bill 341, which spawned the Mandatory Commercial Recycling Law.
Integrated Waste Management Managing Landfill Engineer Jeff Ahlstrom will facilitate a workshop on what the county is going to do to stay in compliance with AB 341 in terms of outreach, education and the monitoring commercial solid waste. The workshop will be held during the Board of Supervisors meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 10 at the County Administrative Center, 224 N. Edwards St. in Independence.
The law mandates that all multifamily dwellings with five or more units and all businesses that generate four cubic yards or more per week of commercial solid waste must comply with new standards by July 1, explained Ahlstrom.
For the sake of providing a visual frame of reference, Ahlstrom explained that a small dumpster holds approximately three cubic yards of solid waste and a large dumpster holds approximately four cubic yards.
AB 341 will create green jobs while moving “California forward from landfilling to waste reduction, recycling and composting by creating a commercial recycling program and setting a bold goal for the state’s waste reduction efforts,” according to Californians Against Waste, which is self-identified as the nation’s oldest, largest and most effective non-profit environmental research and advocacy organization, at
In addition to mandatory commercial recycling, the goal of AB 341 is to have “not less than 75 percent of (California’s) solid waste be source reduced, recycled or composted by the year 2020,” according to the California State Legislature’s website.
The law further requires city, county and regional jurisdictions to implement programs that include education, outreach and monitoring efforts, and if need be, enforcement activities, states CalRecycle at
AB 341 was penned by Assemblymember Welsey Chesbro, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Oct. 5, 2011 and is administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. The new law “will take California to the next level in environmentally responsible waste management,” predicts the California State Assembly Democratic Caucus at
According to Ahlstrom, the county will provide information about the new state law and the recycling opportunities available in the community. He said the county will find means to identify schools, apartments, businesses and other large entities that aren’t in compliance and offer them solutions.
Finally, Alstrom explained that Inyo Country Integrated Waste Management will make an Electronic Annual Report at by August 2013 on how local jurisdiction has implemented AB 341 in 2012. CalRecycle is the official website of California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.
CalRecycle has generated a list of AB 341-related statistics and probabilities:
• About 470,000 businesses and multifamily residences will have to take specific action to comply.
• About 250,00 businesses will be affected.
• Affected businesses represent 20 percent of California business, which are responsible for about 75 percent of commercial solid waste.
• 90 percent of affected business are small businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees).
• 220,000 multifamily dwellings will be affected.
• Regulated multifamily dwellings account for about 60 percent of the waste generated by multi-family housing.
• Estimated statewide average cost savings of $40 million to $60 million for 2012-2020.
• Individual businesses may realize cost savings in reduced recycling service rates zand avoided disposal costs.
• Reduced methane, air toxics and criteria pollutants from landfills.
• Diverting organic matter into compost products positively impacts soil and water quality.
• The regulations will help develop or enhance commercial recycling programs.
• Schools, school districts, municipal entities, construction sites, restaurants, strip malls, etc. are all included under this law.
Sierra Conservation Project recycling service has sprung into action to support AB 341’s provisions/mandates, offering businesses and residential complex owners a leg up on getting out of the problem and into the solution with a program which will provide them with a facility analysis, recycling containers and educational materials – all free of charge.
Brian Robinette, owner of Sierra Conservation Project, which as been providing residential and commercial recycling services locally for nine years, said that this bill is “lighting a fire under people who have been hesitant to get involved … A lot of multifamily locations are under-served,” said Robinette.
While Robinette is exploring grant funding options, his company is currently footing 100 percent of the bill for the free start-up services and materials they are providing to those under-served locations. Robinette said that the best way to get more information or set up recycling service with Sierra Conservation Project is online at

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