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California Bill ‘Incentivizes but Doesn’t Require’ Dual-Stream Recycling

(Credit: Dano, Flickr Creative Commons)

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill into law that lawmakers hope will encourage cities, counties and regional agencies to implement dual-stream recycling in order to reduce contamination.

The California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989, which is administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, requires that local governments submit an annual report summarizing their progress in reducing solid and household hazardous waste; it requires that jurisdictions make a “good faith effort” to implement reduction elements. The new bill requires the department to consider whether the jurisdiction has implemented a dual-stream recycling program when considering whether the jurisdiction has made a good faith effort.

According to the waste hauling industry, on average, 25% of collected recycled material is contaminated, with some communities reaching 50%. High rates of contamination of recycled materials result in higher processing costs and make the use of recycled material more expensive than the use of virgin material. With fewer end markets, contaminated recycled material is stockpiled and may eventually be landfilled.

The bill points out that some communities have successfully addressed the issue of contamination and improved the marketability of recycled material by adopting dual-stream recycling collection programs. This bill states that it is incentivizing but not requiring communities and waste haulers to implement their own dual-stream recycling programs.

The measure will take effect January 1, 2020.

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