Recycling Legislation – NWA Forecast for 2020

2019 has been a challenging year for recycling. All across the country, states have struggled to find destinations for their recyclable materials, yet at the same time, many are still pushing forward with their plans to increase recycling rates and divert more waste from landfill.

Continuing on from the first article in this compliance series that looked at the rapid growth of recycling legislation across the country, with laws appearing at state, city and municipality level, this article provides a round-up of the key pieces of legislation that may affect one or more of your sites in 2020.

What Lies Ahead in 2020

2020 is shaping up to be a busy year for compliance, as several states bring in, or start to enforce their legislation relating to recycling and waste management.

AB 827 – California

In mid-2019, California State Legislature passed bill AB 827, requiring businesses to make composting and recycling bins accessible to customers at restaurants, malls, and other businesses. The bill will come into force in July 2020, meaning that if you recycle certain materials in your “back of house”, you will have to provide your customers with the same opportunity to recycle those materials.

Under this law, the recycling and composting bins provided to the public must be clearly marked with educational signage indicating what is accepted in each stream. This will require businesses to make a capital investment in new bins, as well as in the signage and materials to ensure that customers know what is meant to be put where.

Businesses will also have to consider how to mitigate contamination issues, since customers are not as easy to train as employees! Haulers may take issue with any drop in recyclable material quality, especially with current market conditions making buyers jittery and processing sites even more quality sensitive than before.

AB 1826 – California

Also in California, 2020 will see the next phase of the Organics Recycling Bill come into action. If CalRecycle’s assessment reveals that the state has not hit its target to reduce organic waste disposal by 50 percent of 2014 levels, then businesses that generate 2 cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week will have to comply with their organic recycling requirements.

This means that businesses generating only about 900 pounds of solid waste per week will have to separate out their organic waste stream, so that it can be composted or anaerobically digested.

In conflict with this bill, in some parts of the state, no facilities exist to process this organic waste and the franchised hauler isn’t able to offer an organics collection service. In these instances, businesses will be able to apply for a temporary exemption until sufficient facilities are brought online.

Universal Recycling Law – Vermont

The final section of Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law will come into force in July 2020, mandating that all businesses must offer organic recycling to their employees. This is part of their wider law that will ban all food scraps from landfill.

Businesses will have to separate their food scraps (including cooking oil and coffee grounds) from the trash if they are within 20 miles of a certified compost facility, and they produce more than 18 tons of food scraps per year (about 700 pounds or 3.5 rolling carts per week).

Landfill Bans and Mandatory Recycling Laws

While some states are looking to hit their recycling targets by instituting specific recycling legislation for particular materials, other states are looking to achieve the same result by instituting landfill bans. Currently, 49 states have landfill bans for certain materials, and 22 states have taken this ban further with mandatory recycling laws that levy fines to businesses if they put the material in question in the garbage rather than the recycling bin.

One such state is Massachusetts, which has just started to enforce its landfill bans and in 2020 will be sending auditors out to check how businesses are complying with their requirements.

Waste and Recycling Tracking Forms

Many states, counties and cities now require that businesses provide them with detailed information on the quantities and types of materials that they disposed or recycled over the previous year. As of 2020, this will include:

  • Rhode Island
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Austin, Texas
  • Forty Fort, Pennsylvania

This can be a daunting task, especially for businesses with multiple sites across different states, all with different forms and requirements for completion.

Zero to Waste Plans

Other cities and states will be moving forward with their Zero to Waste timelines in 2020. The cities of Boston, Washington DC, Dallas and Chicago are all pushing ahead with plans to increase their recycling percentage. Boston has set a target to reach 80 percent diversion from landfill by 2035 and Florida has a target of 75 percent diversion by 2020.

Although they haven’t translated their plans into specific legislation for businesses yet, this is likely to follow over the next couple of years.

NWA Ensures Your Continual Compliance

A shifting legislative landscape can leave businesses uncertain of their obligations across the breadth of their operations, making them vulnerable to fines or penalties for non-compliance.

NWA makes it simple for our customers. When you partner with us, you can be safe in the knowledge that no matter what changes may affect your sites in different states, we will be there to ensure that you’re always in compliance.

We constantly track new laws and regulations across the United States, all the way from state level down to municipality. This way, we’re able to give our customers advanced notice of any legislative changes that will affect their businesses, so that they have all the time they need to make the necessary changes. We then provide the operational support and expertise to ensure a smooth transition.

As we look ahead to 2020, our experts are already working with impacted sites to get them ready for the next round of legislation that will kick in throughout the year.

When it comes to Compliance, NWA’s got your back.