California – Tax Exemptions

As of 2018, the state of California reported a 65 percent diversion rate for all materials and more than 140,000 green jobs in its recycling sector.[1] This success is attributable to California’s 1989 Integrated Waste Management Act[2] and the state’s more recent efforts to increase organics recycling through the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), a state agency that coordinates the state’s multiple waste and recycling management programs.

In order to address the 15 million tons of compostable organics still being landfilled, in 2014 the state legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1826 for mandatory commercial organics recycling, as well as four other recycling bills in 2015. These laws sought to further increase the state’s organic waste diversion infrastructure by both incentivizing businesses and mandating state agencies to create mutually shared regulations and goals for organic waste recycling.

While one of the laws pertains to tax exemptions, three of the laws mutually reinforce one another by affecting the way Californian jurisdictions manage their waste streams. Essentially, the laws lay the groundwork for California to better monitor its state recycling system in a way that will ascertain the best means to improve its recycling rate and to ensure sufficient capacity for organics diversion.


Tax Exemptions & Capacity Building

Approval of Assembly Bill 199 expanded the number of projects eligible for sales and use tax exemption under the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA). CAEATFA is an entity whose primary concern is cutting greenhouse gas emissions as part of California’s promotion of environmental health and economic development via the expansion of an alternative energy economy through market mechanisms.

With the stated goal of creating manufacturing jobs in California, the bill updated Section 26011.8 of the Public Resource Code to exclude certain taxes from being charged to projects that use recycled feedstock to make new products, such as recycled food being made into soil amendments. A project’s purchase of equipment under the law must meet the requirement that at least 50% of the equipment’s use will be for processing recycled feedstock to make another product. AB 199’s targeted tax breaks thus aims to help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from organic and other wastes in California’s waste stream which are not being recovered for recycling.

Other 2015 policies relate to capacity building for organic waste processing in California: reporting requirements (AB 901), local infrastructure planning (AB 876), and inter-agency cooperation (AB 1045).


Original post from June 30, 2016

Updated on August 4, 2021


[1] CalRecycle. 2018. “About CalRecycle.” Accessed August 4, 2021. [link]

[2] Strom-Martin, Virginia. 1997. “A Proposed State Role in California’s Recycling Agenda.” Environs Vol. 21, Issue 1, p.73-82. UC Davis School of Law. [PDF]