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Posted on May 23, 2014 | 3:59 p.m.

Committee Passes Williams Bill to Eliminate Loophole on Yard Waste Composting

Source: Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios for Assemblyman Das Williams

The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed a bill authored by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, to eliminate the loophole that gives local governments recycling credit for land-filling trimmings and other green waste.

Assembly Bill 1594 now awaits a vote by the entire Assembly.

“Despite California’s robust recycling infrastructure for traditional recyclables like bottles and cans, the state continues to landfill organic materials, like yard trimmings, at an alarming rate,” Williams said. “We need to stop incentivizing this polluting practice.”

Currently, landfill operators are required to apply a daily cover to their landfill. In most cases, yard trimmings are used as a cover because local governments get recycling credit. This counter incentive discourages actual recycling and returning the green waste to the soil through composting.

“The use of recovered yard trimmings and other green materials as alternative daily cover at California landfills is the largest single impediment to the development of robust composting industry in our state and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas production,” said Bill Camarillo, an executive committee member of the California Compost Coalition. “The expanded use of compost here will not only aid global warming efforts, but will enhance the quality of California soils through the introduction of organic matter, preventing soil erosion, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and enabling water retention at a time when we need it most.”

AB 1594 is also being described as a job creator. Cal Recycle has estimated that recovering the organic materials through composting and anaerobic digestion can create 14,000 new jobs in the State by 2020.

California is one of the only states to allow the use of green waste as landfill cover and the only state to count cover material as diverted, nearly half the states in the country have banned the landfilling of this material all together. Eliminating this wasteful practice will help the State meet its environmental goals, support the growth of agriculture and create jobs.

Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios is the district director for Assemblyman Das Williams.

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