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Waste & Recycling April 13, 2021 04:25:23 AM

How a Surprising Newsom Veto Threw California’s Garbage, Building Industries Into Chaos

Waste Advantage
ScrapMonster Contributor
The logjam has been eased somewhat.

How a Surprising Newsom Veto Threw California’s Garbage, Building Industries Into Chaos

SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): For years, contractors and trash haulers in California have been accepting discarded fence posts, backyard deck planks and other chemically treated wood debris without giving it much thought. That all came to an abrupt end earlier this year, courtesy of an unexpected veto by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Last fall, Newsom vetoed Senate Bill 68, which would have allowed landfills to continue accepting hundreds of thousands of tons of “treated wood waste” — the remnants of railroad ties, decking materials, agricultural stakes and other wooden material that had been pre-treated with industrial chemicals to withstand the elements.

The veto, which took effect Jan. 1, stunned lawmakers — the bill had unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature — and it threw the state’s waste management industry into disarray. Contractors, haulers and the lumber industry initially had no idea what to do with the material that needs to get tossed after nearly every backyard remodel, agricultural clean up, highway project and housing teardown.

“They banned it from the landfill. They banned it from being hauled. They took what was deemed safe on your deck and made it illegal to handle it and dispose of it, with no backup plan,” said Brock Hill, owner of Premier Recycle, a hauling and recycling company based in San Jose.

The logjam has been eased somewhat. The state Department of Toxic Substances Control developed an emergency “variance” allowing landfills to resume taking the treated wood debris. As of this week, at least 47 landfills across the state have received variance waivers, and many of those have started accepting the wood again in the past few weeks.



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