By Farah Stack
California’s New Composting Law: SB 1383
California is kicking off 2022 with the largest mandatory composting law in the nation that makes composting more accessible and tackles food insecurity.
In 2016, former Governor Brown set methane emissions reductions targets for California (SB 1383: California’s Short-Lived Climate Production Strategy) in a state-wide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. The targets must:
- Reduce organic waste disposal by 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025.
- Rescue for people to eat at least 20% of currently disposed surplus ood by 2025.
In California, landfills are the third largest source of methane. Organic waste landfills emits:
- 20% of the state’s methane, a climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide
- Air pollutants like PM 2.5, which contributes to health conditions like asthma
Organics like food scraps, cardboard, yard trimmings, and paper are what make up half of what Californians dump in the landfill.
SB 1383 aims to reduce our state’s short-lived climate pollutants, like organic waste, which have faster impacts on the climate crisis.
New organic waste reductions as part of SB 1383 came into effect on Jan. 1 2022. The state regulation requires residents and businesses to compost their organic waste. This is because when organic waste goes into the landfill, it cannot decompose properly and produces a harmful greenhouse gas called methane.
So what is SB 1383?
Senate Bill 1383 is California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction law that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address food insecurity.
SB 1383 requires local governments to:
- Provide mandatory organic waste curbside collection to all residents and businesses
- Establish an edible food recovery program that recovers edible food from the waste stream
The effort is intended to keep landfills clear of food scraps, which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane emissions.
SB 1383 applied to all residents and businesses. By 2024, each resident and business must divert organic materials from the landfill by:
- Self hauling organic waste to a specified composting facility, community, composting program, or other collection program
- Subscribing to a organic waste collection service
- Composting at home
But what exactly is composting?
Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as plant and food waste, into valuable fertilizer that can enrich soils. Composting provides a range of environmental benefits, including improving soil health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling nutrients, and mitigating the impacts of drought.
Composting is a great way to recycle the organic waste we generate at home, which includes food waste and garden scraps. Food scraps and garden waste combined make up more than 28 percent of what we throw away.
Organic waste that is composted also cuts methane emissions from landfills. Typically when organic waste decomposes, it undergoes a process called anaerobic digestion. During this process, microorganisms that require oxygen, break down the organic waste into decomposed matter which is compost.
When compostable waste goes to landfills, it gets buried under all of the other trash that prevents decomposers from getting oxygen to break down the waste. The waste then undergoes anaerobic decomposition, in which biogas is created as a by-product.
This biogas is roughly 50 percent methane and 50 percent carbon dioxide, both of which are potent greenhouse gases, with methane having a global warming potential 86 times greater than CO2 in a 20-year time frame.
What food waste items are compostable? What items should be recycled? And what should you NOT put in the trash?
Refer to this chart below from CalRecycle to see what you should put in each of your bins:
What to Recycle instead of compost:
Last, here's what you should most definitely NOT put in your landfill (trash) bin:
Visit CalRecycle's website for more information on the new compost + organics mandate.
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