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Policy and Legal Obstacles to Community Composting

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Kourtnii Brown of Common Compost
Oakland, California

Publicada em: Meio ambiente
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Policy and Legal Obstacles to Community Composting

  1. 1. The People’s Quick Guide to Compost Law & Policy
  2. 2. We started researching compost laws... There are MANY LAYERS of compost laws! Everywhere you go, they are DIFFERENT! And they are always CHANGING!
  3. 3. Policy Guide Handout: A first attempt to simplify and organize things! Compost Legal Research Roadmap Compost Policy Advocacy Roadmap
  4. 4. Two major categories of laws and policies: Protection: Laws that protect against air/water pollution, odors, pests, fire, unattractive compost bins or facilities, safety, traffic, and inaccurate fertilizer labeling. A challenge for community compost: These are important laws, but they are often designed for large-scale composting. Planning: Laws and programs to divert waste from landfills, streamline collection and composting, and improve soil. A challenge for community compost: Top-down planning often favor large-scale solutions. You need 5 permits to compost! Let’s compost ASAP!
  5. 5. 1. Generators Protection: Laws that govern dumpsters and bins, including their size, appearance, location, and frequency with which they are emptied. Planning: Programs to support, encourage, and/or require source-separation. Carrot-top:
  6. 6. 2. Haulers Protection: ● Local hauling permit requirements ● Vehicle permit requirements ● Permitting of transfer sites Planning: Increasingly, municipalities have centralized hauling systems and sometimes give exclusive hauling rights to one or a few haulers, which prohibits others from hauling.
  7. 7. 3. Composters Protection: ● Facility permitting and oversight ● Zoning approval for facility location ● Local/regional air, water, vector control, and fire regulations Planning: Grant, loan, and technical assistance programs to help establish compost facilities.
  8. 8. 4. New Soil Protection: ● Laws requiring testing and labeling of compost for sale ● Laws determining application allowed for different quality grades of soil Planning: Grant, loan, and technical assistance programs to encourage application of compost to improve soil quality and sequester carbon.
  9. 9. Impressive! Food2Soil in San Diego faced and overcame four difficult barriers: 1. State facility permitting: Until CA created an exemption for small facilities. 2. Zoning approval: Food2Soil adapted their model and found a way forward. 3. Labeling law: Food2Soil adapted their plans and negotiated with the state agency. 4. Hauling prohibition: Food2Soil advocated and changed city law. Most composters will have to do the same... Things shouldn’t be this hard for community composters!
  10. 10. The time to create community compost laws is: 1. Awareness of the problem + 2. Viable policy solutions + 3. Welcoming political mood = Policy Window!
  11. 11. Examples of Policy Windows in California: Rulemaking, administrative, and regulatory proceedings: ● Bay Area Air Quality Management District is about to make rules about compost. ● CalRecycle (state agency) is implementing SB 1383, creating rules and programs to reduce methane emissions from landfills. ● All California cities must implement SB 1000, requiring that they address issues of environmental justice when they update their general plans. Municipal bid-seeking and contracting processes: ● Sacramento, for example, and many other cities! Give input on legislation: ● Opposed AB 1147, which increased penalties for people who collect waste without a permit. Spearhead legislation: ● We drafted a bill (but have not yet introduced it) to carve out protections for community micro- composters that would otherwise be excluded under exclusive hauling franchise agreements. Become a legislator! Seek appointments to local and state waste and recycling commissions.
  12. 12. WE are the policymakers!
  13. 13. A group of 8 community members who, in 2018, will: ● Have fun: Meet monthly, eat food, build community! ● Learn about the law: You’ll become a compost law expert! ● Build policy advocacy skills: Learn about lawmaking! ● Advocate and change laws: Identify advocacy priorities, give input to state agencies currently writing regulations, and maybe even write some laws! ● Celebrate successes! Celebrate failures! Celebrate the right to make people-powered soil!
  14. 14. The community compost movement can start NOW to lay groundwork for policy advocacy! 1. Create shared definitions of things like “community micro-composting” and “composting cooperative,” so we can tailor laws to each. 2. Adopt best management practices (BMPs) and basic training programs: To address regulators’ potential concerns about health and the environment, we can adopt shared BMPs, along with training programs for compost handlers, to grow confidence in the practices of small-scale composting.
  15. 15. Approaches to policy-making: 1. Exemptions: Codify definitions and sub-categories of “community micro-composting,” then create exemptions from regulatory programs and franchise exclusions. 2. Tiers of regulation: Create tiered regulations that apply more appropriate and less burdensome requirements to small-scale composters. 3. Rights-based: Advocate for recognition of a basic human right to soil, or use another rights-based framework, like the human right to food and human right a clean environment, to protect people’s ability to compost. 4. Incentive programs: A growing number of governments grants are available for GHG reductions, healthy soils, and so on. Let’s advocate for funding for community composting!
  16. 16. We need to address the middle part of the spectrum: Backyard composting Large-scale composting The spectrum of composting options that our legal system has yet to address: Compost education organizations Urban Small-scale Semi-urban Medium-scale On-farm Neighborhood-level Farm cooperatives Nonprofit Soil remediation Worker cooperatives Urban farms and food systems
  17. 17. Perhaps we create another axis: Backyard composting Large-scale composting Homeowners association compost projects Structured for community benefit (stakeholder-oriented) Structured for profit (shareholder-oriented) Composting at schools and community gardens Medium-scale composting enterprises Compost micro-enterprise
  18. 18. Lettuce Discuss! ● Have any favorite laws? ● Stories of legal challenges or solutions? ● Feedback on the Legal Research Roadmap handout? ● Thoughts on policy approaches? Like: ○ Creating definitions for community composting? ○ Creating exemptions? ● Come chat with me today if: ○ You are interested in volunteering for the Law Center. ○ You have thoughts on any of the above. ○ Compost law freaks you out.
  19. 19. Janelle Orsi Executive Director, SELC janelle@theselc.org Kourtnii Brown Founder and Director, Common Compost kbrown@commoncompost.org THANK YOU and ROT ON!

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