California Ramps Up Green Waste Recycling
Get ready! California is gearing up to implement a new recycling program to combat climate change. Starting in 2022, cities and counties in California will be required to provide organics recycling collection services to all residents and businesses, which is a significant step toward combating the effects of climate change in California. Then- Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395 , Statutes of 2016) into law in 2016, establishing targets to achieve a 50 percent reduction in the level of statewide organics disposal by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025. The bill establishes an additional target that not less than 20 percent of currently disposed edible food be recovered for human consumption by 2025. Even though SB 1383 regulations do not go into effect until 2022, local jurisdictions are working with haulers and preparing to collect more organic waste from businesses and homeowners.
California generates about 23 million tons of organic waste every year, and 5 to 6 million tons of that is food waste.
When we landfill any recyclable material, it negatively affects our environment by requiring that we acquire raw virgin materials (like oil to make plastic or trees to make paper). Organic waste has an additional negative impact on California’s environment: When landfilled, organic waste emits methane gas. Methane is a climate-altering greenhouse gas with an impact on our atmosphere 70 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year horizon. In other words, landfilling our yard and food waste directly contributes to climate change in California, leading to increased air pollution and corresponding health concerns like asthma, drier forests that burn in wildfires more easily, cyclical droughts, and coastline erosion due to rising seas.
Fortunately, organic waste can be recycled into beneficial products like compost, a powerful soil amendment, and renewable natural gas, an environmentally preferable alternative to fossil fuel. California compost is used by California farmers to increase the nutrients, water-holding capacity, and carbon content in soil, which helps grow stronger, healthier crops. Many cities throughout the state use RNG to power their public buses and city vehicle fleets.
SB 1383 will provide many benefits to California. The statewide organics recycling program will create new recycling and manufacturing jobs. It will also help Californians save millions in health care costs each year by improving air quality and decreasing health impacts, such as premature deaths and hospital visits—especially for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly, and people with chronic heart or lung disease.
SB 1383 will also benefit our most vulnerable citizens. California’s growing edible food recovery network will capture food to help the 1 in 8 Californians, 1 in 2 UC students, and 1 in 5 California children who are food-insecure.
SB 1383 is coming, and it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening our economy, and improving public health and the environment. You can learn more about SB 1383 on our Short-Lived Climate Pollutants webpage. You can learn more about organics recycling on our Recycle Organics webpage.