California Climate Investments Direct Food to 1 in 4 Californians Without Enough to Eat

Office of Public Affairs
For Immediate Release: October 15, 2020
News Release #2020-08
Media Contact: Linda Mumma

$4 Million in Cap-and-Trade Funds Will Cut Super Pollutants Emitted by Food Waste

SACRAMENTO – As part of the state’s effort to combat the devastating impacts of climate super pollutants, California will direct $4 million in Cap-and-Trade grant dollars to local food waste prevention projects, including food rescue for families in need.

Feed People, Not Landfills

Hunger in California has doubled – and in some counties, tripled – since the start of COVID-19, according to the California Association of Food Banks. At the same time, the state landfills more than 11 billion pounds of food each year. Organic waste decomposing in landfills is one of the state’s top sources of methane. This climate super pollutant is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year span, warming the planet much more quickly than other climate pollutants.

“Reducing food and other organic waste is one of the fastest ways to curb the most harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) Acting Director Ken DaRosa said. “These local projects direct unsold, fresh food to the almost 1 in 4 Californians who lack resources to get their next meal.”

$4 Million in Cap-and-Trade Grants Now Available

CalRecycle is awarding grants of $150,000 to $300,000 to local governments, businesses, nonprofits, tribes, and other eligible applicants for projects that:

  • Feed the almost 1 in 4 Californians who do not have enough food
  • Create green jobs and resilient local economies
  • Reduce hunger relief costs for local governments
  • Help meet the SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) statewide 2025 target to recover no less than 20-percent of edible food previously landfilled.

Applications are due by November 20, 2020.

CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program reduces landfill methane emissions by supporting food waste prevention projects and increasing the ability of California’s food recovery network to collect, store, transport, and distribute more meals. Since 2018, CalRecycle has awarded $20 million for 68 local projects resulting in:

  • 86 million meals
  • 345 local jobs
  • 103 million pounds of food kept out of landfills
  • GHG reductions equal to taking 21,591 cars off the road for a year (99,940 MTCO2 less)

California Climate Investments, Cap and Trade Dollars at Work logo

CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grants are part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving human health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.


At a Glance: How SB 1383 Supports a Clean California for All

SB 1383 builds upon California’s commitment to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions statewide, improve human health, and create clean jobs of the future that support resilient local economies.

Starting in 2022, California cities and counties must provide organics recycling collection to all residents and businesses. SB 1383 also establishes a statewide edible food recovery target that requires grocery stores, wholesalers, restaurants, schools, and other food suppliers to donate fresh food they previously landfilled. No other state or country has required this level of food rescue.

Reduced Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Achieving CalRecycle’s greenhouse gas reduction targets will prevent 88 million tons of GHG emissions, which is like taking 1.7 million cars off the road for a year or powering every single-family home in California on zero emission energy for an entire year.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by recycling organic waste is projected to yield $860 million to $2.4 billion in avoided climate impacts, including reduced wildfire risks and avoided relocations of coastal infrastructure.

Improved Human Health and Quality of Life

  • Redirecting organic waste from landfills to make compost or biofuel reduces air pollution, preventing $10.4 billion to $12 billion in associated health care and mortality costs.
  • Enhancing local edible food recovery programs to help feed the nearly 1 in 4 Californians who do not have adequate resources to guarantee their next meal.
  • Turning depleted dirt back into nutrient rich, water retaining, agriculturally productive soil – reducing the need for chemical pesticide and fertilizer use while increasing crop yield.

Green Jobs of the Future

  • Building the next generation of recycling infrastructure will create 12,000 permanent, green jobs in California and 5,000 additional construction jobs.
  • Recycling organic waste to produce California-generated products (like compost and biofuel) will yield $18 billion to $20 billion in economic value, with annual benefits including:
    • Enough compost to build healthy soil for 700,000 acres of land, such as farms and parks.
    • Enough carbon-neutral energy to power 10,000 garbage trucks or 5,700 businesses.
    • Enough renewable electricity to power 64,000 homes or 2,000 elementary schools.

Resilient Local Economies

  • Supporting local control of more circular, clean economies in compliance with regulations designed in recognition of California’s regional, economic, and cultural diversity.
  • Redirecting organic waste from landfills will help California preserve valuable resources and avoid approximately $10.3 billion in landfill fees.
  • Leveraging public and private investment to reduce waste and develop local infrastructure.

For more information contact, the Office of Public Affairs,

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CalRecycle provides oversight of California solid waste handling and recycling programs to protect human health, develop sustainable solutions that conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.