A Closer Look at California’s Organic Waste Bill

Over the past few months, we’ve seen a handful of states adopt promising new legislation to combat the proliferation of food waste. One state that’s been ahead of the curve is California, where SB 1383 provides a model for how other states might handle the organic waste problem. But what exactly does this new legislation say? Let’s take a closer look.

California SB1383 at a Glance

According to state lawmakers, SB 1383 represents an effort to reduce the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. More specifically, the law establishes two clear targets:

●      To reduce statewide disposal of organic waste. Initially, the legislation sought to cut organic waste levels in half by 2020, compared with figures from 2014. Now, the goal is to cut organic waste levels by 75 percent by January 1, 2025.

●      To rescue at least 20 percent of edible food that has been disposed of. Again, the target date is 2025.

In pursuit of these goals, SB 1383 empowers CalRecycle, the statewide recycling agency, to enforce these standards for organic waste reduction and food rescue, and to administer penalties for noncompliance.

The Incentive Behind SB 1383

Those are lofty goals, but what’s the real motivation behind them?

It’s important to understand that, when compostable materials such as food waste and paper waste are put into a landfill, they begin to break down and emit greenhouse gasses. When left to degrade, these organic waste products create methane, which is the most potent and harmful greenhouse gas on the planet.

Given the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, SB 1383 can be seen as a critical component of California’s broader sustainability efforts.

Also note that a huge percentage of landfill waste (in many cases 70 percent or more) is organic, which makes California’s efforts to cut this number truly consequential.

Implications of SB 1383

So what does California’s legislation truly mean?

Individual homeowners have already been provided with curbside compost bins, allowing them to play their part in diverting organic waste.

As for businesses and multi-family housing units, requirements of SB 1383 include:

●      Diverting organic materials from the landfill,either by self-hauling or enrolling in a waste management program.

●      Providing compost bins/containers to residents, customers, and/or employees.

●      Providing annual educational materials to residents, customers, and/or employees about California’s waste management efforts.

A Way Forward

California’s legislation may not be perfect, and it may not represent attainable goals forevery single state, but it does show that it’s possible to think big when it comes to solving the organic waste problem.

WasteXperts is supportive of these efforts, and happy to play a part in helping businesses and multi-family residences comply with these broader sustainability movements. Questions? We’d love to chat. Reach out to WasteXperts at your convenience.


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