AB 1826: Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling Law

A 2014 state-wide waste characterization report found that organic materials such as food scraps, leaves, grass, and branch trimmings made up 37.4% of the waste stream. Food was the most prevalent material disposed, making up 18.1% of the entire waste stream by itself -- that's 5.6 million tons collected from one study. When these materials are disposed of in a landfill, they produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than CO2 and a major contributor to climate change. To address this issue, Governor Brown signed AB 1826 into state law in October 2014, mandating that commercial entities subscribe to an organic material hauling service or divert organic materials from the landfill through some other means.

Click aqui para información en español

Who's affected?

As of January 2019, all commercial entities producing more than 4 cubic yards of solid waste a week are affected by AB 1826. Please note that "solid waste" means the entire generated waste stream, including garbage, recyclables, and organic material. Some examples of commercial entities are:

  • for-profit and non-profit organizations (e.g., restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, farms, industrial facilities, hospitals)
  • government offices and agencies
  • private and public schools
  • multifamily residential dwellings with five or more units

Note: Multifamily residential dwellings are only required to have landscaping and yard debris composted. Residential food scrap composting is optional.

Examples of organic materials

CalRecycle, the state authority on waste management and recycling, defines organic matter or materials as, "Material that comes from organisms that were once alive, or derived from or produced through the biological activity of a living thing." In other words, organic materials are all things that would break down in a landfill and produce methane (CH4) gas. Some examples include:

  • food scraps (e.g., fruit, vegetables, meat, bones, shells, dairy)
  • food-soiled paper (e.g. paper towels, napkins, delivery pizza boxes)
  • landscaping or yard debris (e.g., leaves, grass clippings, branches)
  • wood and lumber

How to get in compliance

Doing any of the following, alone or in combination, will make an entity compliant with the law. Please note that the terms "haul" or "hauling" means to transport material.

Whichever methods you choose, please notify your licensed hauling company as they keep all records of who is and is not compliant with AB 1826.

Possible exemptions

Some organizations may qualify for an exemption, but you must submit an exemption form (links below) for consideration. The following reasons apply:

  • The amount of organic material produced each week is less than half a cubic yard
  • There is not sufficient space for an organic material collection container on site
  • A significant portion of organic material is already being diverted from landfill through other means, such as food donation to pig farms, on-site composting, self-hauling, or back-hauling

English: Exemption form for SCRR customers (PDF) - organizations located in the Town of Windsor

English: Exemption form for Recology customers (PDF) - organizations located inside Sonoma County and outside the Town of Windsor

Español: El formulario de exención para clientes SCRR (PDF) - organizaciones ubicadas en la ciudad de Windsor

Español: El formulario de exención para clientes Recology (PDF) - organizaciones ubicadas en el condado de Sonoma y fuera de la ciudad de Windsor

Available assistance

Your license garbage hauler or Zero Waste Sonoma staff are available to provide assistance in complying with AB 1826. These services come at no extra cost:

  • On-site waste assessment
  • Training for employees, staff, students, and residents
  • Posters, guides, and other digital or print educational material (please see below for PDFs available for download)
  • Tabling, workshops, presentations, and other education/outreach events

Educational resources available for download

English: 2019 Recycle Guide (PDF)

English: 8.5X11 poster for curbside yard & veggies recycling (PDF)

English: 11X17 poster for curbside yard & veggies recycling (PDF)

Español: 2019 Guía de Reciclaje (PDF)

Español: 8.5X11 Poster con informacion de reciclaje de vegetales y desechos del jardin (PDF)

Español: 11X17 Poster con informacion de reciclaje de vegetales y desechos del jardin (PDF)


Contact Xinci Tan at xinci.tan@sonoma-county.org or 707.565.1733