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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). This produces methane, which is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Organics recycling reduces greenhouse emission while conserving our natural resources.

Commercial Organics Requirements

Who must comply?

Under State Law AB 1826, all business (including restaurants, hotels, retail establishments) and multi-family properties of five or more dwellings are required to recycle their organic waste depending on the amount of waste generated per week. Multi-family dwellings, which include apartments, town homes and condominiums, are only required to recycle green waste. 

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. 

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.

Additional Resources

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


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