ACSA has been working with CSBA, CASH, Small School Districts Association and CA School Nutritionists Association, to educate Cal EPA about the impact of their recycling regulations on school districts. AB 341 (Chesbro) became law on January 1, 2012 establishing a state policy goal that 75% of solid waste generated be diverted from landfill disposal by 2020. AB 341 further requires local governments to implement commercial solid waste recycling programs designed to direct solid waste from businesses and requires a commercial waste generator to arrange for recycling services. ACSA, along with the other education associations looked into this measure as it was moving through the Legislature. All of us were led to believe that AB 341 did not apply to local education agencies, LEAs, since we do not oversee recycling disposal services nor are we considered a business. Cal Recycle took it upon themselves to interpret the provisions of AB 341 to apply to LEA’s without soliciting input from anyone in the education community.
In 2015, AB 1826 (Chesbro) became law expanding the provisions of AB 341 to include organic waste (grass, food, etc.). Per Cal Recycle, they simply expanded the solid waste recycling regulations to now include organic waste, which means LEAs are included. Cal EPA reached out to ACSA to work together to educate LEAs about their responsibility to comply with AB 341 and AB 1826 and wanted to facilitate the dissemination of the appropriate guidance. It was at that time that ACSA along with the other education interested parties began lengthy discussions with Cal Recycle whether the regulations actually apply to LEAs or not.
The issue of recycling is not the concern since many LEAs throughout the state already participate in a variety of recycling efforts. Among the provisions of AB 1826 is the requirement of cities or counties to provide outreach and monitoring of recycling for businesses and notify them for noncompliance. In addition, Cal Recycle is to post a number of resources on their website to provide compliance assistance. Among the concerns we raised are:
- Cities and counties do not have jurisdiction over LEAs to force compliance;
- If a LEA participates in the federal school nutrition program, it may find themselves out of compliance of either state or federal regulations;
- Cal Recycle placed an unfunded mandate on LEAs;
- The Superintendent of Public Instruction is the constitutional officer that oversees LEAs compliance with various mandates, not Cal Recycle;
- The CDE was never notified of the regulations and their impact on several departments with CDE (governmental relations, budget, facilities, and nutrition).
Because of the numerous issues raised by the education community, Cal Recycle has asked for our assistance in developing new regulations to comply with SB 1383 (Lara) to address methane emissions and organic waste. SB 1383 will apply to everyone in the state and phases in the disposal of organic waste by 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025 from the 2014 level. In addition, SB 1383 places a requirement that not less than 20% of edible food that is currently disposed of will be recovered for human consumption. The percentage reduction is achieved statewide and not by individuals, cities, counties, or school districts.
Finally, it has come to our attention that some cities have threatened a school district in their community to comply with AB 1826 including filing a misdemeanor charge. Cities and counties do not have the authority to do this. If you have been contacted by your local jurisdiction, including a local waste hauler, beyond informational resources and their assistance for compliance, please let ACSA know. There are school districts that thought this was simply an issue to be resolved locally when in fact, the local government entity is out of compliance. We would like to share any concerns with Cal Recycle.
Should you have any information you would like to share or ask about, please contact ACSA Legislative Advocate Laura Preston.