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New organic waste law takes effect Jan. 1

 

Last updated 12/31/2021 at 12:38pm

Village News/Courtesy photo

Residents can get a food recycle bucket from their waste service company so they can comply with the state's new organic waste collection rules.

SAN DIEGO – SB 1383 (California's Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Law) will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, and San Diego County already has a resource to help residents and businesses comply with the state's new organic waste collection rules. Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, a San Diego-based environmental nonprofit that has provided groundbreaking waste diversion services and environmental education for over 35 years, is already on the ground supporting CalRecycle and local municipal governments with outreach and education.

Leading up to the rollout of the law, Solana Center has been working with jurisdictions to determine which businesses will need to be in compliance and by when. After Jan. 1, Solana Center will:

● Continue working with jurisdictions to identify businesses that must comply immediately

● Help entities build their infrastructure for processing organic waste

● Offer technical consultations and inspections for businesses to help them with edible food recovery and organic waste collection

SB 1383, which will be implemented by CalRecycle in conjunction with local county governments and waste management companies (e.g., EDCO, Republic Services, Waste Management), requires every California jurisdiction to provide collection services to all residents and businesses for organic waste.

It also requires jurisdictions to educate grocery stores, restaurants and other food generating businesses about their responsibilities and to establish programs connecting businesses with food recovery organizations that can help divert edible food from landfills and to get it to people in need.

"The implementation of SB 1383 is a watershed moment for our state's efforts to combat the climate crisis and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by diverting organic waste from landfills," said Jessica Toth, executive director of Solana Center for Environmental Innovation. "It will also help feed more hungry people by saving edible food from being wasted. SB 1383 is the biggest change to waste management in more than 30 years, since California's Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 made recycling part of our daily lives. We are excited to see organic waste reduction and recycling being tackled in California, and proud to be of service to San Diego County area governmental agencies to educate residents and businesses as this new law is rolled out."

Toth and the Solana Center have been at the forefront of working with local businesses, restaurants and the community, sharing resources and best practices for implementing and staying in compliance with SB 1383. Now that the bill has passed and the Jan. 1 deadline looms, Solana Center sustainability educators are on the ground meeting with businesses and doing waste audits to set local kitchens up for success as well as providing resources such as webinars, a hotline and one-on-one individual technical assistance to businesses, trainings for commercial kitchens in Spring 2022 and much more. The nonprofit is already in contract with 14 out of the 19 San Diego County jurisdictions to provide education services for both businesses and residents.

What is organic waste?

"Organic waste" means any material that is biodegradable and comes from a plant or animal. The organic waste that will be collected under SB 1383 will include:

● Meat and bones, including fish and shellfish

● Grains, breads, and pasta

● Dairy products, including cheese and yogurt

● Eggs and eggshells

● Fruits and vegetables

● Food soiled paper, including compostable takeout containers

● Coffee filters, coffee grounds and tea bags

● Any leftover food scraped off of plates

● Yard trimmings, including leaves, branches, and grass clippings

After Jan. 1, residents and businesses can no longer throw these items in with their landfill-bound trash. They must be placed in a separate green bin, provided by their city or the county. The timing of new organic waste curbside pickup varies by each jurisdiction and when their waste hauler partners will be set up to provide the service.

Why California passed SB 1383

Nearly 40% of all the food grown, produced, bought and sold in the U.S. is wasted, all while the climate crisis worsens and one in five Californians faces food insecurity. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Californians throw away 6 million tons of food waste each year, most of which could have fed hungry people, or been used for compost, biofuel, electricity generation or animal feed.

In the San Diego region alone, residents generate 1.6 million tons of organic waste annually and 500,000 tons of food waste is disposed of. When that food waste instead ends up in landfills and decomposes, it produces methane gas, a pollutant that is over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide and a major contributor to climate change.

Researchers estimate that the effect of SB 1383 on reducing pollution and greenhouse gas will be the equivalent of taking more than two million cars off the road for a year, and it will feed millions more Californians annually. Applying nutrient-rich compost made from recycled food scraps to crops will also improve the quality of California's soil and food and will help reduce agricultural water use in our drought-stricken state. Compost also sequesters carbon from the air when land-applied, with benefits lasting 20 years.

On a local level, organic waste recycled in San Diego County will fuel a more energy-neutral fleet of collection trucks, and ultimately feed the region's natural gas pipelines. Solana Center also anticipates that the new law will create more jobs in San Diego communities by building a marketplace for processing, distributing and using organic materials that would have been thrown away in a landfill before.

The goals of SB 1383 include:

● A 50% reduction in the statewide disposal of organic waste by 2020, as compared with 2014 levels

● A 75% reduction in residents' and business' disposal of organic waste by 2025; and

● By 2025, donating at least 20% of edible food that would otherwise be thrown away in landfills to Californians who don't have enough to eat.

The impact of diverting organics in San Diego alone is enormous and can potentially:

● Free up 700,000 tons a year of landfill space

● Create new markets and jobs worth $2,000,000/year

● Save local businesses $20M a year in disposal fees

● Avoid 127,000 metric tons a year of greenhouse gases

What residents and businesses can expect

As of Jan. 1, jurisdictions are required to provide every business and residence, including multifamily complexes, with bins for recycling "green" or organic waste. They also need to provide options for proper disposal, whether that is through part of regularly scheduled trash pickups or through systems for collecting and returning waste to organic waste recycling centers or anaerobic digestion facilities. It is at these types of facilities where the organic waste will be converted into materials like compost or biofuel.

All businesses classified under Tier 1 (wholesale food vendors, food service providers, food distributors, grocery stores and supermarkets) are additionally required to have a formal system for directing edible leftover food to organizations that distribute food to San Diegans in need.

According to Solana Center, EDCO, Republic Services and Waste Management have already provided many customers in San Diego County with green curbside bins for collecting organic waste, and other waste management companies in the area will soon follow suit. Cities may also provide kitchen caddies for food scraps, either automatically or upon request.

Depending upon the city or jurisdiction, some customers may see an increase of up to $5 a month in waste collection fees in order to fund the new services. Residents and businesses who do not wish to participate in curbside pickup may self-collect their own organic waste to compost at home or and take it to programs such as Solana Center's Food Cycle project, or another organic waste processing facility in the region.

How to reduce organic waste

● Prevention - shop smart - create a list before you go to the store or place an order to know what you already have on hand. Store food properly to prevent spoilage

● Optimal use - donate unneeded, edible food. Get creative with leftovers, imperfect produce and excess seasonal produce

● Recycle - compost your scraps or take part in your curbside organics recycling program to turn your material into healthy soil amendments.

Anyone who would like help preparing their San Diego region jurisdiction or business to comply with SB 1383 regulations can reach out to Solana Center Environmental Solutions Director Mallika Sen at [email protected]

For more information about Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, to volunteer or support their work or attend an upcoming workshop, visit http://www.solanacenter.org.

For more information about SB 1383, visit http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/organics/slcp.

Submitted by Solana Center for Environmental Innovation.

 

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