IMPERIAL — A draft ordinance presentation at a recent Imperial City Council meeting brought out some frustrations from some councilmembers regarding mandatory state regulations on recycling organics for local businesses and multi-family dwellings.
Assembly Bill 1826 is a state mandate which required local businesses to recycle their organic waste on or after the law took effect on April 1, 2016, according to CalRecycle.ca.gov. The law also requires local jurisdictions across the State to implement an organic waste recycling program to divert the organic waste generated by businesses and multi-family residences — which consist of five or more units — to lessen greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from landfills with organic waste. GHG emissions have been identified by the State as significant source of emissions contributing to global climate change, Imperial City Planner Lisa Tylenda said during a presentation.
While the implementation of the law has been phased-in over the years for businesses, Californian cities — including Imperial — must now comply with the adoption of a city ordinance to implement AB 1826, develop the recycling program, and enforce it upon businesses and the multi-family units which produce more than 2 cubic yards of organic waste weekly.
If not, cities may pay fines to the State of $10,000 per day due to non-compliance.
Tylenda said this would affect 44 businesses subject to AB 341 — a similar bill targeting recycling commercial waste — and 11 businesses subject to AB 1826.
Organic waste is defined by the State as food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper waste that is mixed in with food waste.
Implementing AB 1826 is geared toward California’s aggressive recycling and greenhouse gas emission goal, Tylenda said. Reducing the amount of organic materials sent to landfills and increasing the production of compost and mulch are part of the State’s AB 32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) Scoping Plan, according to the Cal Recycle site.
Tylenda said the law requires jurisdictions to identify businesses that meet the applicable (organic waste) thresholds, conduct annual education and outreach to inform businesses regarding the laws and how to recycle organics, and establish a monitoring program for organic recycling activities.
Tylenda provided the Council with a Mandatory Commercial Recycling and Mandatory Commercial Organics Plan, which shows program development and the timeline of items that need to be processed through the City and voted on by the City Council.
She said accepting the ordinance drafted would bring Imperial into compliance with the mandatory state law, but their ordinance was not drafted to be more stringent on businesses than minimum state requirements.
She also said the City has been working with the City’s solid waste collection company, Republic Services, and the Imperial Valley Resource Management Agency since 2016 to conduct outreach to local businesses and multi-family dwellings which “would be triggered to participate” in the mandatory program.
Tylenda said the City is proposing to utilize Imperial’s sole Code Enforcement Officer to conduct site visits to monitor compliance.
However, businesses could choose to donate their organic waste, Tylenda and Republic Services Operations Manager German Hernandez said, but the businesses would still have to provide proof to the City of their donations.
Another option is for Republic Services to handle the organics waste pickup, which would be a $45 monthly fee. The fee is half the price of their fees for the service in other areas, according to Hernandez. The company would provide new, 65-gallon green carts, and have dedicated trucks, drivers, and cart washers would replace dirty carts with washed carts each week.
Hernandez re-iterated that this is a state mandate and not a Republic Services price hike, as the $45 fee would not fully cover the company’s operation costs to implement the organic waste recycling service.
Tylenda also said there is no funding provided by the State to establish the ability for the City to impose fees for non-compliance, and the City did not choose to impose fees at this time, other than the cost of the actual pick-up by Republic Services.
Another option is for businesses to either get another third party to handle it for them, or self-haul the organic waste out themselves, which would also have some sort of state certification requirement in order to self-haul, Tylenda said.
“I don't agree with it at all (but) that's me. I'm sick and tired of regulation in this State,” Mayor Pro-tem Geoff Dale said. “No offense to our provider but it's garbage in my opinion, pardon the literal pun.”
“This is another (form of) typical California tyranny here, to try to mandate cities to do stuff like this,” said Councilmember Robert Amparano.
Imperial Valley Resources Management Agency Project Manager, Daveline Villaseñor, said the IVRMA can aid in monitoring the properties and will inform those involved in upcoming grant opportunities regarding organics but IVRMA does not have the authority to enforce any compliance.
Villaseñor and Tylenda briefly mentioned more of the same coming from the State in January 2022 as Senate Bill 1383 will go into effect, mandating organic waste collection for all residents and businesses rather than just those which hit certain waste creation amounts.
“If there's any good news, we've already phased that in and we'll be disposing of that in our green waste carts at no charge to the City,” Hernandez said.
While Hernandez said Republic Services is pushing for businesses to donate their organic waste to the local food bank in order to combat AB 1826, Mayor Karin Eugenio said there are stringent guidelines the food bank must follow regarding donations but, she said, one positive possibility could be the emergence of soup kitchens to help the homeless.
“It's just more regulation and more garbage so when it comes to a vote, you'll get a no vote from me,” Dale said.
Tylenda said the first reading of the draft ordinance will be conducted at the next City Council meeting.
The next regularly scheduled Imperial City Council meeting is slated for Wednesday, January 20.