Organics Recycling (Food and Yard Waste)

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California's recycling laws have changed! Starting in 2016 Assembly Bill 1826 requires businesses that produce a certain amount of waste to start recycling their organic waste.  The law has been phased in over the last couple years, drawing more and more businesses into the recycling scheme. Organic waste that is collected will be turned into either compost or energy. This State program is intended to help California reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food decomposition in landfills.

In addition, Senate Bill 1383 establishes targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the level of the statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. The law establishes an additional target that not less than 20 percent of currently disposed edible food is recovered for human consumption by 2025. This law is intended to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) in various sectors of California's economy. 

Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling Overview

California State AB1826 requires businesses, schools, hospitals, restaurants, government buildings and commercial properties to separate and recycle their organic waste (food waste, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, nonhazardous wood waste and food-soiled paper). As of September 15, 2020, businesses that generate two cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week (trash, recycle, organics, in aggregate) must arrange for organic waste recycling service. Also, multi-family dwellings of 5 units or more are required to begin recycling green, landscape and pruning waste*. For those businesses that need to comply, please fill out this Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling Compliance Certification Form.

For more information about Food and Yard Waste Recycling for Businesses in the City of Thousand Oaks, download our brochure.  Organice brochure cover screenshot 2017


April 1, 2016: Businesses that generate eight cubic yards of organic waste per week must arrange for organic waste recycling service.

January 1, 2017: Businesses that generate four cubic yards of organic waste per week must arrange for organic waste recycling service.

January 1, 2019: Businesses that generate four cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week must arrange for organic waste recycling service.

Summer/Fall 2021: If CalRecycle determines that the statewide disposal of organic waste in 2020 has not been reduced by 50 percent of the level of disposal during 2014, the organic recycling requirements on businesses will expand to cover businesses that generate two cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week.

*For more information about how the law applies to apartment / multi-family complexes, visit our Multi-Family Service webpage (click here).


In 2012, California Assembly Bill 341 (AB 341) set a statewide goal of diverting 75% of our waste from landfill by 2020. To achieve this ambitious goal, an additional 20 million tons of material per year needs to be diverted from landfills. Mandatory organics recycling (AB 1826) is the State’s next step toward achieving California’s ambitious recycling and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission goals. Decomposition of organic wastes in landfills produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contribute to global climate change. Therefore, diverting edible food to the hungry and turning food waste into compost will help California conserve resources and achieve its ambitious climate change goals, reducing the potential for costly climate impacts in the future. 

The City's Role

FOOD DONATION BUTTON BERRIESAB 1826 requires local jurisdictions to have an organics recycling program in place by January 1, 2016. The City is required to conduct outreach and education to inform businesses about local options for organic waste recycling, as well as monitor compliance and identify those businesses not recycling.

In addition to the option of being serviced by Waste Management to deliver your green and food waste to a composting facility, the City encourages businesses to explore options for donating excess food to food recovery organizations for distribution to hungry people. Nearly 40% of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten.  Food-Recovery-Hierarchy

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) food recovery hierarchy (right) shows different options for food waste disposal, from most to least preferred.

Source Reduction. Reduce the volume of 
food waste generated by purchasing only 
what is needed. Food waste reduction technology and equipment such as pulpers and dehydrators can reduce your food waste volumes. A few companies that offer this type of equipment, including food waste pulpers and dehydrators, include:
InSinkerator - food waste reduction systems and equipment (pulpers)
Somat - waste reduction technology (dehydrator)
Feed hungry people. Too much edible food gets thrown away. The City can help you 
connect with local non-profit food recovery organizations to get leftover food to hungry people. If you donate food, you may be eligible for a tax deduction or credit! Good Samaritan laws protect you from liability when donating food in good faith. Click on the berries image above to get more information about good Samaritan protections and tax incentives, which can benefit your bottom line if you donate food to a charitable organization. 
Feed animals. Food trimmings and waste can be turned into animal feed.  For more info, visit the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture website at Check back - we are working with local farms to compile a list of those that are interested in accepting food scraps for their animals. 

Industrial uses. Waste cooking oil can be converted to biofuel. In addition, bio-digesters can turn used oil and food scraps into energy. The City has machinery to turn Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) into energy at the Hill Canyon Waste Water Treatment Plant (HCTP). For more information, contact one of the companies listed below, which pickup and deliver waste cooking oil and FOG to the HCTP for bi-odigestion. 

Coastal Byproducts


Buron's Preferred Pumping Co.


Alpha Pumping Inc.


Imperial Western Products/Biotane Pumping

877-424-6826 (877-4-biotane)


Food waste carts awaiting collection at Hyatt Westlake Plaza

Current Organics Recycling Programs

A number of large organic waste generators are currently participating in Waste Management's organics pick up and composting program, including Los Robles Hospital, Albertsons, Whole Foods and Hyatt Westlake Plaza. The program utilizes 96-gallon carts to collect organic waste, which are serviced regularly. La Reina school is also participating. All businesses over the 4 cubic yard generation threshhold must now come into compliance with the law.

For more information about the program, or to request a consultation at your business, contact Waste Management Business Services at (805) 955-4346.          

Additional Resources

Download our FREE signs to help kitchen staff put the right waste in the compost bin! Post them on the bin and/or on the wall above the bin.

What goes in the bin English thumbnail    What goes in the bin Spanish thumbnail


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