Organics Recycling FAQ

1. Is mandatory organics service being enforced? 

YES, state law AB 1826 began in 2016.  Currently, every business that generates 4 cubic yards or more of solid waste and recycling (combined) per week must have organics recycling, which includes food waste and plant debris. Multi-family properties that generate 4 cubic yards or more of solid waste and recycling (combined) per week must have organics recycling, which includes landscaping waste only. 

2. Are there facilities / hauler(s) in the area that accept and haul organics? 

Yes, the haulers listed below accept and haul organics. You can also visit the Food Waste Toolbox for more information.

      1. Atlas Disposal 
      2. Cal-Waste Recovery Systems
      3. Republic Services
      4. Waste Management


3. Is there an exclusive franchise hauler for trash and recycling services for the City of Sacramento and County of Sacramento? 

No, the 18 non-exclusive franchise haulers are listed here:


4. Are organic recycling services franchised to one specific hauler for this city/county? 

No, see questions 3.


5. Is there a listing of permitted haulers a business needs to utilize for organic recycling services? 

No, see questions 3.


6. Who determines if a generator (business and multi-family complex) is required to comply with mandatory organic recycling or not? 

Sacramento County Environmental Management Department (EMD) enforces the mandatory recycling and organics ordinance.  EMD and SWA staff review generator's information and determines if an inspection is required to make a determination.  Businesses were required by AB 1826 to start recycling organic waste by January 1, 2019.


7.  How are service levels determined? Generator, hauler, city, etc.? 

All three, but mainly the hauler and EMD staff estimate and evaluate the amount of organic waste generated by each business.  EMD makes the final determination and the hauler suggests what sizes cart or bin you need.


8. Are all cities in Sacramento County requiring compliance?  

SWA requires compliance in the City of Sacramento and Unincorporated County only.  Contact other cities regarding their programs.


9. Can a business be exempted if the service is cost prohibitive, i.e. more expensive than current disposal cost?  

No, cost of service does not exempt a business from compliance.


10. What is the process to file for a waiver if a business does not generate organic waste? 

Exemptions for mandatory organics recycling are granted on a case-by-case basis for businesses that meet any of the following criteria:

    • Restaurants are not eligible for waivers
    • There is no collection service or other system available for recycling material (4.01.140-B)
    • All of the generators on the owner's property are exempt from or not required to comply with the provisions of Chapter 4 (4.01.140-C1)
    • Recyclable materials are not being generated by any activities occurring on the property (4.01.140-D1)
    • Not adequate storage space for dumpster or cart on site (4.01.140-D1)
    • Results in a violation of zoning code or minimum parking spaces requirements (4.01.140.-D2)

If you believe your business qualifies for an exemption, you can complete and submit a Waiver Form. A business is subject to inspection by an Environmental Specialist to determine if exemption is valid.


11. What is the time period to complete the exemption process (from initial visit to completion of written documentation)? 

Exemptions will be processed on a first come first served basis. If you believe your business qualifies for an exemption, you can complete a Waiver Form.


12. How long will that exemption be valid if a generator is granted an exemption?

EMD will perform follow-up inspections every 2 years. Exemptions can also be revoked at the sole discretion of SWA staff.

13. If the client location is exempt in one city/county, will that exemption have any bearing on another city/county for same business model i.e.: Target Stores? 

No, exemptions vary by cities and counties throughout California, so please contact your local jurisdiction.


14. Can a business be exempted if there is a space constraint issue? 

Yes, however, please keep in mind that there are many different types and sizes of containers, so the likelihood of a space constraint exemption is low. Many haulers offer businesses with limited space smaller containers (e.g. 64 or 96 gallon carts) that would fit in your enclosure. Please reach out to your local hauler and/or at to discuss additional ideas for the business to consider in implementing an organic waste recycling program. 


15. If a city or hauler does not currently have the infrastructure to support / process organics, what is the process to document and ensure the business does not receive a violation?  Will we receive documentation from that specific city / county or hauler stating when the infrastructure will be put in place to begin organic recycling? 

As mentioned before, each jurisdiction is implementing the law themselves.  It is the law and your requirement is to get something in place that diverts food waste and organics out of the garbage container.  The SWA Region's franchised haulers have places they take organics for recycling.  Other opportunities for organic waste diversion exist, such as food donation, animal feed options, landscaping service providers for plant and pruning debris.  Every individual location is required to implement an organics recycling program.  Visit CalRecycle's Organics FAQ page for more information.


16.  What if you already have a food donations program or food is returned to vendors and fall under the 1/2 yard per week, do you still need a organics program? 

If you have a food donation program, and organic waste generation falls under the one-half cubic yard per week, then you have met compliance. 

There are more than one way to comply. ​


17.  When will enforcement (fines) be initiated? 

The process is flexible and our goal is compliance.  We want to work with you toward that goal.


18. Is there a consistent violation / fine ($) amount enforced across the cities / counties / state? 

No, AB 1826 does not require fines at the state level; it is delegated to cities and counties.  It is completely voluntary if a jurisdiction wants to have a fine component.  Title V of the SWA Code has an Enforcement provision.


19. What is the responsibility of the contracted hauler to implement organic recycling (i.e. survey, educate, provide signage, proposed service inclusive of containers / liners etc. and report)? 

This is a partnership between the generator and hauler. Haulers provide most of the topics mentioned, but are not responsible for some. SWA Code Title IV includes Franchise Hauler Requirements.


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