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Key Laws and Regulations

There is a groundswell of legislation both globally and specific to California to address the problem of waste. Below are a few of the key legislation around waste reduction and diversion:

Organic Waste

AB 1826 Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling

California will require local jurisdictions across the state to implement an organic waste recycling program to divert organic waste generated by businesses and multi-family properties.

Read more from CalRecycle.
Read more from Solana Center.
Read more about the precursor laws to AB 1826 (AB 939 and 341) from Solana Center.

SB 1383 Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

California aims for a 75 percent reduction in the level of the statewide disposal of organic waste by 2025. Additionally, the bill aims to have at least 20 percent of currently disposed edible food recovered for human consumption by 2025.

Read more from CalRecycle.
Read more from Solana Center or our Blog Post from when it was first signed in 2016.

AB 827 Customer Access to Recycling and Composting

Businesses are required to provide organics and recycling containers for customers to collect waste generated from products purchased and consumed on the premises.
Read more from Californians Against Waste.

Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act

Federal law providing a national standard of liability protection for both food donors and the nonprofits accepting these donations. California further specified liability coverage for food donation under this act. The Good Samaritan Act is meant to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals.

Read more from Public Health Law Center.

Non-Organic Waste

AB 2020 Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act

Implemented in 1987, California's Bottle Bill had a big impact on recycling rates increasing from 52 percent to a program high of 85 percent in 2013. The program was designed to be a self-funded operation to reduce litter and increase recycling rates by allowing consumers to cash in bottles and cans with a California Redemption Value (CRV).

Read more from CalRecycle.

AB 619 Bring-Your-Own Reusable Food and Beverage Containers

California furthers the transition from single-use items to reusables. Under this law temporary food facilities at events can serve customers in reusable containers rather than single-use disposables. The law also clarifies existing health code laws allowing the public to bring reusable containers to standard restaurants for take-out.

Read more from Californians Against Waste.

SB 270 Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

Passed in 2016, this law prohibits many stores in California from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to their customers. Stores may instead sell reusable bags or recycled paper bags.

Read more from CalRecycle.

AB 1884 Plastic Straws Upon Request

Sit-down restaurants in California are prohibited to distribute straws automatically, and instead only provide a straw when it is requested by the customer.

Read more from Californians Against Waste.

SB343 – Recycling Symbols Accuracy Bill

Regulates the use of recycling symbols on many plastic and packaging products. The measure prohibits the use of the chasing-arrows symbol on products that are not truly recyclable.

Read more.


Read about other past waste legislation in California.

Many jurisdictions have further regulations around waste, visit your cities' website to see more specific laws around straws, recycling, and more!

Upcoming Potential Regulations of Interest

AB1276 – Single-use Food Accessories Bill – All single use food accessories should only be handed to customers if they ask for them. Read more.

SB54 – Plastic Pollution Reduction Bill – Significantly increases the source reduction requirements of plastic packaging and single use plastics, and increases the recycling requirements to reduce pollution. Read more.

SB502 – Green Chemistry Product Disclosure Bill – Increases transparency regarding chemicals of concern in a product. Read more.