BUDGET AND MOOD SWINGS RIDING THE WAVES
Climate mood swings and pandemic waves continued in 2021 with a surprising $80 billon budget surplus. The California Legislature was able to meet and conduct business under the COVID sky and the Governor Recall blues. The massive budget surplus allowed the Governor and the legislative Democrats to go all in on a progressive agenda aimed at healing the State which was tempered somewhat as the Recall loomed. With a daunting drought and an inflamed forest, California became the poster child of ‘Code Red for Humanity’ that the United Nations issued. With time running out to mitigate irreversible damage due to climate change, SB 619 bought one year of no penalties. In a last hope to bend the climate curve, the State delivered $270 million to CalRecycle to implement SB 1383 and mitigate methane.
The Governor signed 24 bills, as part of his California Comeback Plan, that focused on climate and clean energy efforts, as well as drought and wildfire preparedness. It is the largest climate package in State history with over $15 billion in funding to tackle wildfire and drought challenges, build climate resilience in communities, promote sustainable agriculture, and advance a nation-leading climate agenda. California is committing $1.1 billion over two years to support sustainable agriculture practices and create a resilient and equitable food system. These efforts include investments to promote healthy soil management, and support for livestock methane reduction efforts, among other programs. Compost and biochar use are part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Climate Smart Agriculture programs.
Taking action to combat plastic pollution and advance a more sustainable and renewable economy, the Governor signed another package of legislation designed to raise consumer awareness around recycling. It will also promote industry accountability to combat wishful recycling with overtures to modernize our recycling systems. SB 343 (Allen) requires products to meet benchmarks in order to be advertised or labeled as recyclable, helping consumers to clearly identify which products are recyclable. The Statewide Recycling Commission published a list of What is Recyclable. We had to get rid of the chasing arrows to promote a circular economy. AB 1201 (Ting) was also part of this package, the Better Composting Standards Act, that was enacted, was sponsored by the California Compost Coalition. AB 1201 is designed to mitigate wishful composting, stemming from a single-use and single stream mentality, by defining what is truly compostable.
As 2021 winds down, awash with unanticipated billions of dollars, local government, with the waste industry, is gearing up for SB 1383 implementation (starting on January 1, 2022) with help on the way. Surpassing a sense of hopelessness and confusion of last year, and being recognized as an essential public service, the industry was able to ride the waves of pandemic uncertainty and deliver on the programs needed to bend the climate curve and divert organics from landfilling.