Scientists tell us that greenhouse gases released by human activities, like land-filling food and yard waste, cause climate change.
According to CalRecycle, landfills are the third largest source of methane in California. Organic waste, which includes food scraps, yard trimmings, paper, cardboard and wood make up half of what Californians dispose in landfills.
Organic waste disposed in landfills emits 20% of the state’s methane, a “short-lived” climate pollutant that is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
To respond to the climate crisis, California is implementing statewide organic waste recycling and surplus food recovery through SB 1383, signed into law in September 2016 by Governor Edmund Brown Jr. SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) establishes the following methane reduction targets:
- Reduce organic waste disposal in landfills statewide 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025.
- Increase the recovery by 20% of currently disposed edible food for human consumption by 2025
The following are three major programs that are required of jurisdictions statewide to meet these targets:
- Collection and Recycling: Starting in 2022, with some exceptions, jurisdictions must provide organic waste collection services to all residents and businesses.
- Procurement of products made from recycled organics: Local governments will be required to modify procurement policies to purchase products made from recycled organic material, such as renewable energy, compost and mulch.
- Food Recovery: Starting in 2022, and under a phased timeline, jurisdictions must require that certain food service businesses donate edible items to food recovery organizations. This will help feed the almost 1 in 4 Californians who lack enough to eat.
In addition to the above programs, jurisdictions are required to conduct education and outreach on organics recycling to all affected residents, haulers, solid waste facilities, local food banks and other food recovery organizations.
Penalties for Noncompliance
SB 1383 becomes effective January 1, 2022. Jurisdictions, organic waste and edible food generators and haulers are all subject to penalties for non-compliance. Each jurisdiction is responsible for conducting appropriate oversight of haulers and contractors, consultants and other third-party entities, as applicable. Ultimately CalRecycle may fine or penalize a jurisdiction for non-compliant programs.
The first step for jurisdictions will be to adopt ordinances to implement the law. CalRecycle has developed a number of documents, including a model enforcement ordinance and corresponding franchise agreement, a procurement policy, and model food recovery agreement for edible food, as well as educational materials
Taking Proactive Steps
The city of Hermosa Beach has already adopted an ordinance to make these mandates enforceable. Based closely on model documents provided by CalRecycle, the ordinance codifies many of the requirements of SB 1383 and describes penalties for non-compliance. The ordinance requires implementation by 2023, instead of 2024, as required by CalRecycle, in an effort to more aggressively achieve sustainability goals.
The South Bay cities have each adopted climate action plans that outline strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In complying with SB 1383 the cities have an opportunity to advance their climate action plan greenhouse gas reduction goals. The climate action plans can be viewed at: https://southbaycities.org/programs/climate-action-plans.
For information regarding SB 1383 visit: https://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/organics/slcp