The Zero Waste Schools Program

Complying with the California Mandatory Commercial Recycling & Composting Laws: AB341 & AB1826

“We started working with Zero Waste Marin in the fall of 2016 to increase our recycling and introduce composting to our campus. Since then we have formed a Green Team that has learned to take on leadership responsibilities that have helped our entire school community become more aware of our waste. Our students have learned the importance of separating the recycling, compost, and landfill, and we have developed long term sustainability practices for our students and staff!”

Pepe Gonzalez
Laurel Dell Elementary School

According to the State of Recycling in California Report written by CalRecycle in March 2015, the commercial sector, which includes schools, generates nearly three fourths of the solid waste in California. Much of this commercial waste is readily recyclable, and the majority of California’s waste stream is made up of food, organics, paper, and plastic.

AB 341

AB 341 was adopted into California Law in 2012 to enhance systems that capture recyclable materials from the commercial sector. It requires businesses that generate four cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week, including schools, to engage in waste diversion programs including waste reduction, recycling, and composting. AB 341’s 75% statewide recycling goal has three components: source reduction, recycling, and composting. The full text of AB 341 can be found here.

AB 1826

AB 1826, the Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling Bill, became effective January 1, 2016. On April 1, 2016, businesses generating eight cubic yards of organics per week were required to start composting. In January of 2017, businesses generating four cubic yards of organics per week will be required to start composting.

In accordance with these laws and in conjunction with individual school needs, the Zero Waste Schools Program is helping schools in Marin County implement appropriate recycling and composting programs. The full text of AB 1826 can be found here.

National Food Waste Reduction & Donation Policies

ZWM encourages the donation of leftover food to help decrease hunger in our county. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were approximately 49,300 Marin residents, 19 percent of the population, living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level in 2014.

The Offer Versus Serve or OVS provision in the National School Lunch Program is a concept that applies to menu planning and meal service. It is intended to minimize food waste by allowing students to turn down items they do not intend to eat. Five items are offered and only three need to be taken as long as they include a fruit or vegetable.

On November 18, 2011, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2012 (Public Law 112-55) created an amendment that provides statutory authority for Child Nutrition Programs (CNPs) and agencies to have food recovery and food donation policies.

This statute clarifies that any food prepared for CNPs but not consumed may be donated to “eligible local food banks or charitable organizations.” It also extends protections against civil and criminal liability for persons or organizations when making food donations to the extent provided under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, found in Section 22 of the Child Nutrition Act.

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