The Zero Waste Schools Program

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

“I joined Green Team so that I don’t have to feel powerless about helping our environment and so that our community can have less waste.”

5th grader
Strawberry Point

“Before I was on our Green Team, I didn’t know about the problems with landfill, but now I do, and now I want to take action to really help the earth. Being involved in Green Team has helped me be a leader in my class and school to help kids make smart earth decisions.”

3rd grader
Neil Cummins

Recycling & Composting Laws and Food Donation

The Mandatory Commercial Recycling (MCR) Law, AB 341, was adopted in 2012 and requires businesses that generate four cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week, including schools, to arrange for recycling services or self- haul to a recycling center. It also establishes a state-wide goal to divert 75% of solid waste from landfills by the year 2020.

The Mandatory Commercial Organics (MORe) Law, AB 1826, became effective January 1, 2016 and requires businesses, including schools, to subscribe to organics collection programs based on the timeline below:

April 1, 2016 – eight cubic yards of organic waste/week
January 1, 2017 – four cubic yards of organic waste/week
January 1, 2019 – four cubic yards of solid waste/week

Food Waste Reduction & Donation Policies

ZWM encourages the donation of leftover food to help decrease hunger in our county. Find more general information about food recovery tips and opportunities at our food recovery page.

On November 18, 2011, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2012 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.

On September 25, 2017, the Senate passed Senate Bill No. 557 in regards to food sharing, donations, and school meals. Click here to read the bill. Based on this bill, the California Department of Education has posted their Guidance on Donation of Leftover Food in CNPs. It includes providing share tables where food service staff, pupils, and faculty may return appropriate food items and make those food items available to pupils during the course of a regular school meal time. Click here for more information.

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