In 2014 the California Legislature passed some far-reaching laws to reduce what goes into our landfills and hazardous waste dumps. We've described the most important here.
SB 270: Plastic bag ban
California grocery and convenience stores with more than 10,000 square feet of shop space or at least $2 million in annual gross sales can no longer offer free disposable plastic shopping bags to customers after July 1, 2015. They can still offer "reusable" bags, including study and rarely reused handled paper bags, to customers for a fee of at least ten cents.
AB 1826: Organic waste
This bill takes effect in stages over the next couple years rather than this New Year's Day, but it's a big one. Under this law, California businesses (including landscaping contractors) that generate eight cubic yards of organic waste per week must recycle or compost that waste as of April 2016. That amount drops to four yards in 2017, and in 2020 the state's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery can decide to drop that even further to two yards a week.
AB 333: Medical waste
This bill makes a number of procedural changes to California laws concerning the transportation of medical waste by licensed haulers.
AB 380: Railroad hazmat hauling
This complex set of new regulations makes railroad companies provide more accurate and updated information to California counties and the state Office of Emergency Services regarding which of their trains carry which hazardous materials, to assist local governments in crafting spill response plans. Rail companies are also obliged to provide appropriate agencies with copies of their emergency response plans, and to inform the Office of Emergency Services of changes in the amount of Bakken oil their trains are hauling.
AB 1179: Waste tires
Under this new law, the state Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery can extend its tire recycling program -- paid for by the state's tire disposal fee -- to giving grants to parks to install landscaping material and other public amenities made of reclaimed tires.
AB 2355: Recycled paving materials
As of January 1 2017, local agencies in California that have street paving and repair obligations can only use recycled paving materials in accordance with standards for such materials set by CalTrans.
SB 1274: Used mattresses
Bet you didn't know California has a mattress recycling plan in the works: it's due to be put in place in 2016. SB 1274 would extend that policy to require a recycling fee be charged when mattresses are sold, and would allow specified recycling facilities to accept used mattresses from consumers.
For the record: an earlier version of this piece gave an incorrect start date of July 2015 for the mattress recycling program. According to Amanda Wall of the Mattress Recycling Council, that's actually the due date for getting the state's recycling plan to CalRecycle. We regret the error and thank Amanda for the heads up.