How to Track and Report Recyclables Landfilled Due to COVID-19
CalRecycle Issues Guidance to Local Agencies
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery released guidance for how a city, county or a regional agency responsible for meeting Integrated Waste Management Act requirements should report recyclables that are disposed in, instead of diverted from, landfills due to recyclable processing facility closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Generally, a jurisdiction may be subject to penalties of $10,000 per day for failing to divert minimum amounts of waste from landfills. Many solid waste operators have suspended operations at recyclable processing facilities due to COVID-19, citing the inability to practice social distancing guidelines effectively. As a result, recyclables that are normally collected, processed and resold are being landfilled. However, CalRecycle has not waived the waste reduction and diversion requirements. This has raised questions regarding how recyclables landfilled by a waste hauler will be counted toward a jurisdiction’s efforts to meet and report on diversion requirements and how landfilled recyclables will be treated in CalRecycle’s review of the jurisdiction’s implementation of its source reduction and recycling element and diversion programs.
According to recent guidance from CalRecycle, businesses and facilities that are required to report the types and quantities of materials they sell, transfer or dispose of through CalRecycle’s electronic Recycling and Disposal Reporting System should report those materials as they are being sent by material type (mixed recyclables, solid waste, etc.) and disposition. Any landfilled recyclables must be reported by jurisdiction of origin because they are disposed of. However, businesses and facilities should not report landfilled recyclables as “disaster waste” through RDRS.
Instead, a jurisdiction that has been affected with increased disposal tonnage at landfills – such as landfilled recyclables – due to COVID-19 must submit a waste disposal modification request when it submits its 2020 Electronic Annual Report due Aug. 1, 2021. The jurisdiction must also submit a Reporting Year Disposal Tonnage Modification Request and Certification Form. On the form, jurisdictions should claim landfilled recyclables as waste from a declared disaster or emergency under section A9.
In connection with a waste disposal modification request, the jurisdiction must also:
- provide a copy of the Governor’s Proclamation of a State of Emergency;
- provide information and supporting documentation for the tonnage claimed for the deduction and
- describe efforts to maximize the diversion of the COVID-19-related solid waste, including why the recyclables had to be disposed of and could not be diverted.
Jurisdictions should ensure that the quantity of recyclables collected and landfilled are tracked and reported for the waste disposal modification request. Documentation could include weight tickets or a signed letter on official letterhead from a waste hauler indicating where the waste tonnage originated. This means that haulers should not allow a truck to collect and comingle pre-sorted solid waste, recyclables and organic waste in the same truck. Otherwise, a jurisdiction would be unable to prove the amount of recyclables that could have been diverted from the landfill.
In addition, local jurisdictions should:
- still endeavor to maximize its efforts to recycle, reuse or otherwise divert waste from the landfill to the extent possible;
- continue to implement solid waste reduction and recycling and composting programs to the extent practicable while maintaining health and safety protocols and
- communicate with waste haulers and operators to determine whether and when recyclable processing facilities may resume operations.
Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts, facts specific to your situation or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information herein.