New Law Requires Compost Procurement Ordinances by January 1
Editor's Note: This blog has been updated to include mention of an agency publication that provides more specific guidance on which jurisdiction should adopt a compost procurement ordinance.
Many cities, towns, and counties, both larger and smaller, now have regular collection of compostable organic material, including food scraps and soiled paper waste, compostable plastics, and yard waste, such as fall leaves and storm debris. This blog summarizes the new state law requirements for compost procurement ordinances for certain cities, towns, and counties. These requirements are also summarized in the recent MRSC blog, New Legislation, Guidance Targets a Green Energy Future in Washington.
HB 1799: Organic Materials Management
In order to reduce methane emissions associated with organic materials, the legislature finds that it will be beneficial to improve a variety of aspects of how organic materials and organic material wastes are reduced, managed, incentivized, and regulated under state law. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to support the diversion of organic materials from landfills through a variety of interventions to support productive uses of organic material wastes, including:
. . .
(h) Encouraging cities and counties to procure more of the compost and finished products created from their organic material wastes in order to support the economic viability of processes to turn organic materials into finished products and increasing the likelihood that composting and other responsible organic material management options are economically viable.
The compost procurement ordinance (CPO) requirement is codified in RCW 43.19A.150(1), which states:
(1) By January 1, 2023, the following cities or counties shall adopt a compost procurement ordinance to implement RCW 43.19A.120:
(a) Each city or county with a population greater than 25,000 residents as measured by the office of financial management using the most recent population data available; and
(b) Each city or county in which organic material collection services are provided under chapter 70A.205 RCW.
This new legislation incorporates the requirement in RCW 43.19A.120(1), adopted in 2020, which states:
When planning government-funded projects or soliciting and reviewing bids for such projects, all state agencies and local governments shall consider whether compost products can be utilized in the project.
What is a compost procurement ordinance (CPO)?
A CPO is local legislation that sets forth an agency’s plans to comply with these compost procurement requirements and goals. CPOs address the state law requirements for procuring compost for city or county projects. These practices could include how purchased compost materials may be incorporated into projects such as landscaping, soils amendments at construction sites, roadside maintenance, and erosion control.
Which jurisdictions are required to adopt a CPO?
The CPO requirements apply to cities and counties with populations of 25,000 or more, as well as smaller jurisdictions where organic materials collection services are provided. See RCW 43.19A.150(1). The Washington Department of Ecology's publication Organics Management - Compost Procurement Ordinances and Reporting provides more specific guidance about which jurisdictions are required to adopt CPOs.
What is required in a CPO?
The provisions and processes to follow are set forth in RCW 43.19A.150. Essentially, a CPO tells the story of a city or county’s composting procurement and purchasing plans for its existing and future needs.
Affected cities and counties must pass a CPO by January 1, 2023. This CPO must implement the 2020 requirement established in RCW 43.19A.120, which requires local governments consider and use compost products in applicable projects except when availability, health, quality, safety, or price-competitive criteria are not met.
When developing a CPO, cities and counties must consider four specified categories of compost uses, including landscaping projects and soil amendments. Cities and counties with a CPO must also develop strategies to inform residents regarding the jurisdiction’s use of compost and the value of compost for residential use.
Local governments must give priority to:
- Purchasing compost products that are produced locally,
- Ensuring purchased products are certified by a nationally recognized organization, and
- Purchasing from providers whose products are derived from municipal solid waste compost programs that meet quality standards.
Other considerations for developing and implementing a CPO
When planning and creating a CPO, a city or county could adopt identical or near identical language as another city or county, especially when working together to carry out their compost procurement strategies. Additionally, a city or county could include language that refers to or complements another city or county’s procurement program (e.g., language such as “City X may enter into a collective purchasing agreement with County Y to fulfill the requirements of RCW…”).
Local governments may enter into collective purchasing agreements if cost-effective or efficient to do so. Contracts by governmental units must require the use of compost products to the maximum extent economically feasible to meet local government compost use requirements. Cities and counties with a CPO must submit a report to the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) every two years beginning in 2024.
Once an ordinance is adopted, a city or county has a great degree of flexibility in how it will implement a compost procurement program. One way to do this would be to coordinate purchasing with other jurisdictions through the use of collective purchasing agreements or intergovernmental procurement. RCW 43.19A.150(7) provides that: “Cities and counties may enter into collective purchasing agreements if doing so is more cost-effective or efficient.”
The Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES) is in the process of using stakeholder input to develop language for new compost procurement contracts. See also our webpages on Interlocal Cooperation and Intergovernmental Procurement.
Sample CPO Provisions
Here are a few key provisions from Everett Ordinance No. 3911-22:
To the extent required by RCW 43.19A.150(6), the City shall give priority to purchasing compost products from companies that produce compost products locally, are certified by a nationally recognized organization, and produce compost products that are derived from municipal solid waste compost programs and meet quality standards comparable to standards adopted by the Department of Transportation or adopted by rule by the Department of Ecology.
To the extent required by RCW 43.19A.150(5), by December 31, 2024, and each December 31st of even-numbered years thereafter, the City shall prepare a report for the Department of Ecology covering the previous year’s compost procurement activities, including the following information:
(a) Total tons of organic material diverted each year;
(b) The volume and cost of compost purchased each year; and
(c) The source(s) of the compost purchased.
Below are additional resources from the DOE as well as sample CPOs (please note that some are drafts):
- DOE: 2022 Organics Management Law
- Everett Ordinance No. 3911-22
- King County Ordinance No. 19552
- Mercer Island Ordinance No. 22C-22
- Thurston County Draft CPO
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