In recent months, the same question has come up with multiple Recyclist Program Tracker customers: how should we be tracking and reporting on mixed-use generators? The CalRecycle Electronic Annual Report separates out questions about businesses and multi-family properties. So what do you do about a mixed-use property (the most common version being commercial businesses on the ground floor, and multi-family dwellings above)?

To recap the mandatory commercial recycling and organics recycling regulations:

  • AB 341: A business (includes public entities) that generates four cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week or is a multifamily dwelling of five units or more shall arrange for recycling services.
  • AB 1826: A business that generates four cubic yards or more of commercial solid waste per week or is a multifamily residential dwelling of five units or more shall arrange for organic waste recycling services. However, multifamily dwellings are not required to have a food waste diversion program.

Because mixed-use generators don’t fall squarely into either category, we asked CalRecycle to clarify how they should be reported. In response, new information has been posted to the AB 1826 FAQs, #58 under Businesses.

Our jurisdiction has a “mixed use” property with four commercial tenants as well as six multi-family units. The property is considered as a single commercial account by the hauler, and the residential and commercial tenants currently share the same refuse and recycling containers on site. The property as a whole meets the 4 cubic yard commercial solid waste threshold, based on overall service level, and the jurisdiction is considering the property subject to the law as of 2019. Would the multi-family residents need to recycle their food waste? Would the jurisdiction report the entire property as a “business” subject to the law, or break out the business and multi-family components separately for reporting purposes? Multifamily dwellings of five units or more that generate the required threshold of solid waste are not required to arrange for organic recycling services for food waste, including food-soiled paper. Therefore, the multi-family residents to not need to recycle their food waste. However, the jurisdiction is allowed to implement more stringent requirements, and/or the tenants may request permission to participate in the program if there are food waste collection containers accessible to them.

In terms of reporting, the jurisdiction may choose how it would report on this property, as long as the jurisdiction explains in the Electronic Annual Report (EAR). The jurisdiction needs to utilize the same methodology to report on this and similar mixed-use accounts in coming years. For example, the jurisdiction could report this as a covered commercial customer and provide more detail in the EAR about the property’s multi-family tenants. Conversely, the jurisdiction could count this as a covered commercial business as well as a covered multi-family complex, breaking out the uses into their individual components for EAR reporting purposes.

Or, in short:

  • Multi-family residents of mixed-use properties are not required to divert food waste.
  • Mixed-use generators can be reported as either business or multi-family, but the same methodology has to be used from one year to the next.

To keep things simple (or as simple as possible!), here at Recyclist when we process service-level data sets, we are tracking mixed-use properties as commercial, unless requested to do otherwise. Among other reasons, this makes the most sense in the context of the forthcoming SB 1383 reporting requirements, which make fewer distinctions between businesses and multi-family dwellings.

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