State and Local Waste Policies

There are many laws, regulations, and ordinances surrounding waste disposal. Laws are created from legislative bills originally introduced by the federal or state legislatures. Regulations are the standards and rules adopted by administrative agencies to govern how laws will be enforced. Ordinances are more locally specific, passed by the County or a Municipality.

However these are all considered "policies", and they are used to govern how waste is transported, recycled, reused, or disposed.

Please see below for a list of policies affecting the residents and businesses of Sonoma County. Policies have been grouped into four general categories:

  • Recycling and Waste Reduction
  • Organics and Composting
  • Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Planning

Recycling and Waste Reduction Policies

Disposable Food Service Ware and Polystyrene Foam Ban Model Ordinance
Jurisdictions in Sonoma County have implemented, or are considering adopting, an ordinance to ban the sale of certain polystyrene foam products and limit the use of non-recyclable or non-compostable disposable food ware.

Carryout Bags Ordinance (aka "Plastic Bag Ban")
This ordinance was passed in 2014 throughout Sonoma County, banning all single-use plastic bags and requiring stores to charge 10 cents for each paper bag provided. Customers should be encouraged to bring their own reusable bags.

Zero Waste Resolution
Jurisdictions in Sonoma County have passed, or are considering passing, this resolution which sets a goal of no material going to landfill by 2030.

AB 619 Reusable Containers and Multiuse Utensils (2019)
This law amends the Health and Safety Code to allow customers to bring their own containers for food from a restaurant or other food facility. Either an employee of the food facility or the customer may fill the container. There must be a contamination-free transfer process and all surfaces must be sanitized after each filling.

Temporary food facilities such as food trucks or tents may also provide reusable utensils and other items to customers as long as they are cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized after each use.

Per the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, food and beverage providers must create and document protocols for allowing reusables if they choose to allow these items to be used in their establishment.

AB 341 Mandatory Commercial Recycling Law (2011)
This bill's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by requiring recycling in the commercial sector. Specifically subject to the law are businesses, non-profits, strip malls, government offices and schools that generate four (4) or more cubic yards of waste per week. Also subject to the law are multifamily complexes with five (5) units or more.

AB 3025 Polystyrene Loose-fill Packaging (2008)
This bill prohibits, after January 1, 2012, a wholesaler or manufacturer from selling, or offering to sell expanded polystyrene (EPS) loose-fill packaging material ("packaging peanuts") in California, unless it meets requirements to contain specified amounts of recycled material. Ultimately, the bill requires EPS loose-fill packaging to be comprised of 100 percent recycled material by January 1, 2017.

AB 2449 Plastic Bag Recycling (2007)
Requires most supermarkets and large retailers with pharmacies to take back and recycle plastic grocery bags. The bill also requires retailers to provide consumers with education about bag reuse. SB 1219 (2012) extended AB 2449, but unfortunately this plastic bag recycling requirement has sunset on January 1, 2020.

AB 2020 California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act aka "The Bottle Bill" (1987) and AB 3056 (2007)
AB 2020 took effect as litter prevention legislation. AB 3056 raised the redemption value of qualifying beverages to 5 cents for each container under 24 ounces and 10 cents for each container 24 ounces or greater.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
A variety of policies promote or require EPR, which places the responsibility of a product's end of life directly on the manufacturer or producer of that product.

Organics and composting policies

SB 1383 Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (2016)
Signed into law by Governor Brown in 2016, SB 1383 mandates statewide actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. The bill establishes two main targets:

  1. By 2020, reduce the organic material disposed in landfi­lls by 50% from the 2014 level, and
  2. By 2025, reduce the organic material disposed in land­fills by 75% from the 2014 level. By this point, no less than 20% of edible food currently disposed must also be recovered for human consumption.

Although there is still quite some time to meet the reduction targets, SB 1383 serves as the regulatory force behind both AB 341 and AB 1826, and it imposes heavy fines and penalties for noncompliance.

AB 1826 Mandatory Commercial Organics (2014)
Starting January 1, 2019, AB 1826 will require businesses, non-profit organizations, multifamily buildings, schools, and government entities that generate 4 cubic yards or more of solid waste to arrange for composting. The intent of the law is to significantly reduce the amount of food scraps and green material currently sent to landfill.

AB 827 Commercial Organics and Recycling Bins (2019)
This state law requires that commercial food establishments provide bins to customers for collecting organics and recycling alongside trash. Bins must be available to customers on or by July 1, 2020. This policy works together with state laws AB 341 Mandatory Commercial Recycling and AB 1826 Mandatory Commercial Organics to maximize landfill diversion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Policies

SB 212 Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship (2018)
Requires manufacturers and other covered entities to design, fund, and implement stewardship programs for the proper collection and disposal of pharmaceuticals and sharps. The regulations are still in the development phase and implementation is expected to begin in early 2022.

AB 1343 California Architectural Paint Recovery Program (2010)
This bill established an industry-led, statewide stewardship program to manage the reuse, recycling, and proper disposal of leftover architectural paint and resulted in the program we now know as PaintCare.

AB 2347 Mercury Thermostats Collection Program (2008)
This bill enacts the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2008 and requires a manufacturer who sold mercury-added thermostats before January 1, 2006, to establish and maintain a collection and recycling program for out-of-service mercury-added thermostats.

AB 1125 Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act (2006)
Requires retailers of rechargeable batteries take-back spent rechargeables from their customers.

The California Universal Waste Law (2006)
The California Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) adopted new regulations for universal waste, deeming them to be hazardous to people and the environment. Universal wastes include a wide range of items such as batteries, fluorescent lamps and other mercury containing products, and some electronic devices that contain mercury, lead, cadmium, copper and other hazardous substances. Universal waste may not be discarded in solid waste landfills.

AB 2901 Cell Phone Recycling (2004)
Requires retailers selling cell phone take-back used cell phones for recycling.

SB 20 Electronics Recycling (2003)
Established a funding system for the collection and recycling of certain electronic wastes. Fees are collected from consumers at point of purchase to fund collection and recycling programs.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Planning Policies

AB 32 California Global Warming Solutions Act (2006)
Sets goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The bill requires that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, which represents a 25% reduction from current levels, and has an ultimate goal of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050. Visit the State’s climate change web site for more information.

AB 939 California Integrated Waste Management Act (1989)
Mandated local jurisdictions meet solid waste diversion goals of 25 percent by 1995 and 50 percent by 2000. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) determines how diversion rate is calculated and reported. To help in the increase of diversion rates, each jurisdiction was required to create an Integrated Waste Management Plan; see the Sonoma County Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan [PDF: 9.89 MB]