Fines for Waste Violations Triple in California | ENGIE Impact

Fines for Waste Violations Triple in California

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California Waste, Recycling and Composting Requirements for Businesses

Businesses in California have long had reason to pay close attention to their waste streams. With some of the most comprehensive waste regulations in the U.S. and an active enforcement agency—the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) —retailers and other businesses need a detailed plan to ensure the right waste ends up in the right bins. Many companies have had to pay steep fines when inspections uncovered things like batteries, aerosols, expired or not over-the-counter medications, and other household hazardous products in their waste containers.

Similar penalties for waste violations are being rolled out across the country, including on the federal level with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) having potentially steep penalties for certain violations of EPA regulations as part of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

Now more than ever, businesses need to ensure their waste management practices comply with state and federal regulations. Companies may have internal programs in place to educate employees on proper disposal, but such programs commonly fail to include a control that confirms compliance.

This also applies to more recent California regulations around composting. Starting in 2022, residents and businesses are required to dispose of organic waste—including “food, green material, landscape and pruning waste” among other items. Businesses are also expected to educate employees and contractors on how to sort organic waste and dispose of it properly, as well as provide the correct containers to do so.

A variety of disposal options are available for businesses to adopt, including curbside collection, local composting facilities, or other collection programs. And while there are no penalties for non-compliance now, there may be starting in 2024—meaning now is the time to get the practices in place to ensure compliance.

Recycling efforts—both for businesses and residents—continue to be a priority for California as well. Violations can result in fines of up to $100,000, so it’s essential to review current operations to ensure compliance.

ENGIE Impact’s waste advising team regularly performs client waste compliance audits, and it’s often surprising what we find in an organization’s garbage bins. A waste audit could potentially save an organization doing business in California tens of thousands of dollars per day in avoided fines and penalties.

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