What the California Mandatory Organics Recycling Law Means for You

Beginning in 2022, Senate Bill 1383 requires Californian businesses and residents to separate their organic waste into two bins: one for composting and the other for recycling. This means that food scraps, yard clippings, old magazines, plants—anything organic in nature—must be separated from your regular trash bin if you live or work in California.

Cities and other districts may select from a range of organic waste collection services to best fit their specific communities and local infrastructure while also producing clean streams of organic material that can be repurposed into high-quality, marketable items including compost, renewable natural gas, electricity, and paper. Cities & counties are responsible for educating residents and businesses about these collection requirements.

What Does This Mean for Homeowners?

Food Scraps Compost

The biggest change for homeowners will be the need to start separating their food waste from the rest of their trash. This can be done by using two different bins in your kitchen, or by using a bag specifically designated for food waste that can then be placed in your regular trash bin. you may also want to consider composting at home if you have the space to do so.

This new law has caused a lot of confusion for homeowners, but it also means that your organic waste is going to be turned into useful products instead of being dumped in landfills and creating harmful greenhouse gases. There are several Home Composting Kits available on Amazon for those who wish to try composting at home.

  • Residents must purchase and participate in their local government's organics curbside collection program.
  • Residents must properly separate their organic waste into the correct containers.
  • Some jurisdictions allow residents to self-haul their organic waste. If this is the case, the government will provide information about the requirements for self-hauling.

What Does This Mean for Multi-Family Complexes?

Multi-family complex

Multi-family complexes will also need to start separating their organic waste into two bins: one for composting and the other for recycling. This can be done by providing two different dumpsters on-site, or by using a bag specifically designated for food waste that can then be placed in your regular trash bin.

What Does This Mean for Businesses?

Business Waste

Businesses of all types, including restaurants and grocery stores will need to start separating their organic waste into two bins: one for composting and the other for recycling. Businesses must provide collection containers for organic waste and recyclables in all areas where disposal containers are provided for customers, except in restrooms. However, if a business does not generate any of the materials that would be collected in a specific container, then it does not have to provide that particular container.

Internal containers do not need to be replaced if a firm opts for the proper color, and they are not retired until they are no longer capable or January 1, 2036, whichever comes first.

Businesses must periodically: 

  • Inspect organic waste containers for contamination.
  • Inform employees if containers are contaminated.
  • Instruct employees about how to properly sort material into the correct containers.

What Does This Mean for Cities and Counties?

Trash Collection

Cities and counties will need to start providing organic waste collection services that meet the requirements of senate bill 1383. this includes choosing from a range of organic waste collection services to best fit their specific communities and local infrastructure while also producing clean streams of organic material that can be repurposed into high-quality, marketable items including compost, renewable natural gas, electricity, and paper. Cities & counties are responsible for educating residents and businesses about these collection requirements.

What Are the Options for Disposing of Compostable Waste?

Because you can no longer throw compostable materials directly into the trash in california, other options must be considered.

The first choice is simply to recycle or compost these items yourself. Various types of composting bins are available for personal use, from tumble-style composters to worm-fed composting systems.

Or, if you don't want to compost at home, there are a range of food waste recycling drop-off sites available in your area.

Many jurisdictions will provide a separate organic waste pickup service, which may or may not include an increase in the taxes and fees charged to the community.

Waste Containers

If you do not have a way to compost your food scraps at home, you can take them to a local Commercial Compost Facility or an on-site composting system authorized by the State Department of Food and Agriculture.

Finally, there are third-party services like Compostable that provide full-service pickup of organic materials for a monthly fee. This may be convenient for individuals who are not able to use a service provided by their local municipality.

CalRecycle, the state agency in charge of the change, has a wealth of information on its website about the new requirements. Fines can be levied for failing to distinguish organic trash from other waste. Those penalties, however, aren't scheduled to go into effect until 2024. 

Conclusion

All businesses and multifamily complexes must begin collecting organics on January 1, 2022, which includes food waste and yard trimmings. The campaign is intended to reduce food waste in the country's most populous state, bringing it below the threshold that harms the environment as it decays. When organic waste decomposes, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is more powerful and damaging in the short term than carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Starting in January, all cities and counties that provide trash services are required by law to have food recycling systems in place, while grocery stores must donate edible food that would otherwise be discarded.

The opening date for organics diversion differs by location. For years, San Francisco, Berkeley, Costa Mesa, and other cities have recycled kitchen waste through curbside green bins. Yard trimmings are also accepted in those containers.

Homes in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County will be notified over the first half of 2022 to separate their food waste, according to county officials. Some companies in L.A. County are already participating in a voluntary food waste recycling program that will become mandatory throughout the year.

We're excited to see this new program roll out in California, and hope that it will reduce harmful emissions into the environment while encouraging residents and businesses to be more mindful of the waste created on a daily basis.