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09 • 16 • 2022

Transition California Communities Towards Zero-Waste!

Victory! AB 1857 was signed into law on September 16, 2022.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a sweeping package of legislation, which included AB 1857, to cut pollution, protect Californians from big polluters, and accelerate the state’s transition to clean energy. Read the full press release here. 

Background

The Integrated Waste Management Act passed (“Act”) in 1989 mandates that jurisdictions must divert at least 50% of their waste away from landfills and into source reduction, recycling, reuse, and composting activities. However, the Act currently permits jurisdictions to count up to 10% of the waste (“Diversion Credit”) that they send to municipal solid waste incinerators towards their obligation to divert at least 50% of their waste away from landfills. 

The Problem

There are two remaining municipal waste incinerators in California - the Southwest Resource Recovery Facility (SERRF) in Long Beach and Covanta Stanislaus in Stanislaus County. They are both over 30 years old with outdated technology that emits toxic air emissions and ash and is expensive to maintain. Low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by these facilities on top of already existing pollution issues community members face on a daily basis. 

Solution 

AB 1857 will eliminate the diversion credit for municipal solid waste incinerators and redefine incineration as disposal. Burning trash is energy-intensive and creates harmful pollution, and is the opposite of reducing our waste or recycling. Rather, it creates a barrier to moving towards a zero-waste future. AB 1857 will ideally close down the last two remaining waste incinerators and move our state and especially help support these regions in moving towards creating more just and equitable zero-waste communities. 

Learn more about how SERFF and Covanta Stanislaus are perpetuating environmental racism and adding to the cumulative burden on low-income communities and communities of color.

Thank you for making your voice heard and helping to pass this law!

Plastic Pollution