New Rules for Putting Food Waste to Good Use

By Dianne Sundstrom

In September 2016, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1383, requiring residents and businesses to separate “green” organic waste in order to reduce climate pollutants. Organic waste dumped into landfills decomposes and creates methane: a super-pollutant that has as much as 80 times the earth-warming potency of carbon dioxide.

In California, food waste accounts for approximately 17-18% of total landfill disposal; in Long Beach more than half of collected trash is organic material. CalRecycle, the State entity overseeing implementation of SB 1383, established statewide targets to achieve a 75% reduction of organic waste and recovery of at least 20% of edible food for human consumption by 2025.

These items are considered food scraps that can be dropped off with Long Beach Community Compost. They differ from at-home composting since they also include meats, cheese, oils, and breads.

Redirecting organic material to composting centers or anaerobic digestion facilities allows carbon to be sunk back into the earth or captured as natural gas that can, for example, power trucks.

Although the law went into effect on January 1, 2022, cities have until 2024 to comply before fines can be levied. Last summer, Long Beach began a pilot program with restaurants to collect food scraps and recover edible food. As of December, that program diverted 130 tons of organic waste and will be expanded this year. According to Christy Serrano, a recycling analyst, the City is working towards a residential organic recycling program but has hit some speed bumps with COVID 19, supply shortages, and lack of local infrastructure. Therefore, a timeline on residential implementation is not available at this time. Residents will receive adequate notification and education before implementation of the program.

In the meantime, residents may want to begin “at home” composting. Free workshops are offered virtually, and discounted home compost bins are available. Information and registration can be found at: https://www.longbeach.gov/lbrecycles/

Virtual composting workshops:

Saturday, 2/12/2022 | 10 - 11 am

Saturday, 3/12/2022 | 10 - 11 am

Saturday, 5/14/2022 | 10 - 11 am

Another option is to take food scraps to Long Beach Community Compost located at Willow Springs Park. They occasionally hold collection events at other locations like farmers markets. lbcommunitycompost.org

We can do it! San Francisco, Berkeley, Costa Mesa and other cities have been recycling kitchen waste for years.

 



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