As a waste management professional, you have the power and the responsibility to make a difference in the world. Environmental sustainability, conserving natural resources, and protecting global ecosystems to support health and well-being begins with calculating a company’s footprint.
By Michael Gonser

Anticipating and complying with carbon emission regulations is essential for the residential and commercial industry to address climate change and secure a sustainable future. In Part one of this series (Waste Advantage Magazine, January 2024), we introduced the concept of carbon emissions and how to tell the difference between the values. In Part two (February 2024), we discussed how to find out your carbon emissions. Part three of this article series will highlight the significance of staying informed about upcoming changes and adhering to carbon emission rulings.


Residential and commercial enterprises must align with evolving environmental imperatives and reduce their carbon footprint.

The Ripple Effect
Could California’s new emissions laws have a ripple effect across the U.S. and impact your waste management business? California is the fifth largest economy in the world and a major consumer of goods and services. If you want to do business with California or its residents, you may have to comply with its emissions standards or face competitive disadvantages.

In October 2023 California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 253 and SB 261 into law. The bills were first introduced in January 2023 by a group of lawmakers seeking to enhance transparency, standardize disclosures, and provide consumers with transparent and credible climate information. The Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act (SB 253) passed the state Assembly in September in a 49-20 vote.

As the law is currently written, beginning in 2026, companies will have to report their emissions from their own operations and energy use in the previous year. By 2027, they will also have to report emissions from their supply chain and other “Scope 3” emissions outside their operations—from employee plane travel to investments. (A second new law will require companies with revenue more than $500 million to also report the financial risks they face from climate change.)

Will there be Regulatory spillover? California has a history of setting environmental precedents that other states or the federal government adopt. For example, California’s vehicle emissions standards have influenced national and international regulations. The new emissions laws could inspire similar legislation in other jurisdictions, creating a patchwork of rules you must follow.

What is the potential financial risk? The new emissions laws require companies to disclose their climate-related risks and how they manage them. This could affect your access to capital, insurance, and credit, as investors and lenders may favor companies that are more transparent and resilient to climate impacts.

As a garbage company owner, you may want to consider how to know your current carbon footprint and how these laws could affect your operations, costs, and opportunities. You may also want to explore ways to reduce your emissions and improve your environmental performance, such as investing in cleaner vehicles, recycling waste, or using renewable energy. Doing so could help you comply with current and future regulations, as well as gain a competitive edge in the market.

Top 5 Things to Consider
There is a lot of talk these days about sustainability and for good reason. Not only is reducing your environmental impact good for the climate but evidence indicates that businesses that focus on sustainability are more successful in the long term. Here are a few.

#1: Environmental Responsibility
Residential and commercial enterprises must align with evolving environmental imperatives and reduce their carbon footprint. Awareness of upcoming changes enables proactive adaptation and contributes to a greener future.

#2: Competitive Edge
Businesses that demonstrate a commitment to reducing carbon emissions gain a competitive advantage by attracting environmentally conscious customers and enhancing brand reputation.

#3: Operational Efficiency and Cost Savings
Compliance with carbon emission regulations drives the adoption of energy-efficient technologies, leading to improved operational efficiency and significant cost savings.

#4. Risk Mitigation
Anticipating and complying with regulations helps businesses avoid reputational, legal, and financial risks associated with non-compliance.

#5: Innovation and Market Opportunities
Understanding future regulations stimulates innovation market adaptation and positions commercial entities as leaders in sustainability, opening up new opportunities.

A Sustainable Future
Awareness of upcoming carbon emission regulations and adhering to them is crucial for the residential and commercial industry to contribute to the fight against climate change, gain a competitive edge, achieve cost savings, mitigate risks, and embrace innovation for a sustainable future. | WA

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