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Organic Recycling

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What is Organic Waste

What is Organic Waste?

Organic waste is any material that is biodegradable and comes from either a plant or an animal. Biodegradable waste is organic material that can be broken into carbon dioxide, methane or simple organic molecules. Examples of organic waste include green waste, food waste, food-soiled paper, non-hazardous wood waste, green waste, and landscape and pruning waste.

The Purpose

When organic waste is dumped in landfills, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition (due to the lack of oxygen) and produces methane. When released into the atmosphere, methane is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Organics recycling reduces greenhouse emission while conserving our natural resources.

State Law AB 1826

State Law AB 1826 mandated all business and multi-family properties to recycle their organic waste beginning April 1, 2016 depending on the amount of waste generated per week. Recycling organic waste will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This law also requires that local jurisdictions across the state implement an organic waste recycling program by January 1, 2016.

Commercial Organics Requirements

Who must comply?

All businesses that produce organic waste may be subject to complying with organic recycling, this includes restaurants, hotels, retail establishments and multi-family residential dwellings of five or more units. Multi-family dwellings, which include apartments, town homes, and condominiums, are only required to recycle green waste (Click to view our organics recycling brochure). 

How do I comply?

Businesses and multi-family complexes can meet the mandatory organics recycling requirements by taking one or more of the following actions:

  1. Source-separate organic waste from all other waste. Contact your waste hauler to arrange for organic waste recycling services. 
  2. Sell or donate the generated organic waste to an accredited facility, e.g. county permitted food pantries that will redistribute food to those in need.
  3. Sign up for an organic waste recycling service that includes mixed-waste processing that specifically recycles organic waste.
  4. Recycle organic waste onsite or self-haul organic waste for recycling. Note, the City may require you to provide proof that you are self-hauling or a permit to self-haul.

Organics Recycling Timeline

  • April 1, 2016 - Businesses that generate eight or more cubic yards of organic waste must arrange for organics recycling service.
  • January 1, 2017 - Generators of four or more cubic yards or organics waste per week are subject to the organic waste diversion requirements.  
  • January 1, 2019 - Generators of four or more cubic yards of total solid waste per week are subject to the organic waste diversion requirements. 
  • January 1, 2021 - If organics waste disposal has not been reduced by at least 50 percent, generators of two cubic yards per week of total solid waste are subject to the organic waste diversion requirements.  

organic waste binDid You Know?

  • The methane gas generated from food waste is 20 to 25 times stronger than CO2. 
  • Soil with compost is more nutritious and holds water better, and has more microbes, which makes for healthier soil and protects plants from disease.
  • Recyclable organic waste accounts for about 40 percent of all the materials California send to landfills each year. Out of the 40 percent of organic material that sits in landfills, 30 percent could be used for compost or mulch.
  • Every ton of paper that is recycled saves about 17 trees.

Food Pantries

There are over 300,000 Orange County residents who are uncertain where their next meal will come from. The county has numerous food pantries working to feed the hungry. Restaurants, as well as other commercial businesses, can donate their left over food to varies pantries throughout Orange County. Many organizations offer a free pick up service. If your business would like to eliminate food waste and help the hungry, contact the Waste Not OC Coalition for more information.

How do I contact my hauler?

Franchised haulers are approved to provide dumpster bin rental services within the City. Please contact the individual haulers on the franchised haulers list for specific rates and availability of organic bins at  

For further details, please contact the following.

  • Solid waste information: 949-644-3066 
  • Senior Management Analyst, Keith Hinckley: 949-718-3466

Additional Resources

For additional information, please visit the below California Department of Resources, Recycling, and Recovery (CalRecycle) websites:


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