Recycling Legislation

Since the late 1980’s, California legislators have enacted a variety of recycling laws impacting all governmental jurisdictions. In response, Kern County Public Works has developed a variety of recycling programs to comply with the mandated legislation.

Check out the Public Works RECYCLING PORTAL to learn more about County recycling programs.

Because statewide laws impact local programs and activities, the following review of important legislation provides the framework behind the development of various County programs.

Jump to : AB 341 | AB 939 | SB 1016 | AB 2020 | AB 1305 | SB 20 | AB 2901 | CA Universal Waste Law | AB 2449

AB 341

With the passage of AB 341 on October 6, 2011, businesses are required to recycle. The purpose of the law is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by diverting commercial solid waste to recycling efforts. According to the State, the commercial sector generates nearly three fourths of the solid waste in California. For more information see the Commercial Recycling Page.

AB 939

In 1989, AB 939 established the current organization, structure and mission of CalRecycle. The purpose was to direct attention to the increasing waste stream and decreasing landfill capacity, and to mandate a reduction of waste being disposed. All Jurisdictions were required to meet diversion goals of 25% by 1995 and 50% by the year 2000. A disposal reporting system was established with CalRecycle oversight, facility and program planning was required, and cities and counties began to address waste problems. Since 1989, Kern County has worked with public and private organizations to implement a variety of programs addressing waste concerns including: drop-off recycling, voluntary curbside recycling, and commercial waste recycling; household hazardous waste recycling; electronic waste recycling; green waste recycling; construction & demolition recycling programs. The complex methodology of calculating diversion totals caused some County jurisdictions difficulty in reaching mandates.

SB 1016

SB 1016 created a change in how diversion rates are computed. The new per capita disposal and goal measurement system moves the emphasis from an estimated diversion measurement number to using an actual disposal measurement number as a factor, along with evaluating program implementation efforts.

AB 2020 – The California Bottle Bill

AB 2020 took affect in 1987 as litter prevention legislation. At present, the minimum refund value established for each type of eligible beverage container is 5 cents for each container under 24 ounces and 10 cents for each container 24 ounces or greater. For details on what containers can and can't be redeemed for money, visit To find a buy-back center in Kern County, check out the Kern County Recycle Guide  in the AT&T Yellow Pages or the link on this web site.

AB 1305 – Recycled Newsprint Act

Passed in 1989, AB 1305 requires major newsprint consumers, such as newspapers, to use 25% recycled newsprint, and 50% by the year 2000. Currently, at least 50 percent of the newsprint used by printers and publishers in California must contain a minimum of 40 percent post- consumer paper fiber.

SB 20 – Electronic Waste “E-Waste” Recycling

SB 20 was signed in September of 2003 and it establishes a system to recycle computers, TVs, and other video display devices (known as Electronic Waste) when they reach their end-of-life. Fees are collected from consumers at point of purchase to fund recycling programs.

AB 2901 – Cell Phone Recycling

AB 2901 was signed into law on September 29, 2004. It requires all cell phone retailers to take back used cell phones for recycling at no charge to the customer.

The California Universal Waste Law

This legislation went into effect in February 2006. Universal wastes are hazardous wastes generated by a wide variety of people. Examples of these wastes are batteries, fluorescent tubes, and some electronic devices, that contain mercury, lead, cadmium, copper and other substances hazardous to humans and the environment. Universal waste can not be thrown away in solid waste landfills. Rather, universal wastes can be recycled. Recycling requirements are less stringent than those of other hazardous wastes to encourage recycling and recovery of valuable metals.

AB 2449 - Plastic Bag Recycling

This law went into effect in July 2007. It requires all California grocery stores to take back and recycle plastic grocery bags. The bill also requires retailers to provide consumers with a bag reuse opportunity by providing reusable bags which can be purchased and used in lieu of disposable ones.

Future Legislation

Ongoing legislation will continue to impact local recycling options. Currently, residents have the opportunity to take recyclable materials to local Buy-Back Centers, Community Drop-off Recycling Centers, or (in some areas) voluntary curbside recycling, County Special Waste Facilities, Green waste Recycling Centers and local landfills and transfer stations. Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army Stores are excellent places to donate reusable items. Both reuse and recycling options reduce the amount of materials headed to local landfills. Check the  Kern County Recycle Guide for specific information on all local options.