Here’s How CA’s New Mandatory Composting Law Affects You

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California’s new composting law is now in effect. This is what you need to know.

A new year calls for a greener state, thanks to a new law in California that will transform the way the state deals with food waste forever. Composting became mandatory in California under Senate Bill 1383 (3 (SB1383) on January 1, 2022.

This is the most significant change to California’s waste system since recycling laws were introduced in the 90s, and it’s only the preliminary stage of a wider initiative to reduce emissions, conserve water and make the Golden State more sustainable.

What does CA’s composting bill mean for me?

It requires all businesses and multi-family residences to divert organic waste (including soiled paper products, and yard waste) to the compost program run by Recology. Composting requires residents to separate perishable waste from other trash so it can be converted into new materials like renewable energy sources, which helps offset climate change.

Why is this going into place now?

Then-Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), establishing methane emissions reduction targets in a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) in various sectors of California’s economy. These targets must:

  • Reduce organic waste disposal by 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025.
  • Salvage at least 20% of organic waste for use as food by 2025.

How will the new law benefit the state?

According to CalRecycle, half of California’s landfills are made up of organic waste, contributing to a fifth of the state’s methane emissions. Rachel Wagoner, Director of CalRecycle, says this is the fastest way for Californians to help reduce emissions.

How can I compost?

While it will take time for the counties and cities to introduce programs (much like the ones already in place in San Francisco), you can start by using countertop bins to hold organic waste for a short period of time before disposing of it in bins. Your city officials and local councils will communicate the details of the programs as and when they roll out.

What happens if I don’t comply?

Currently, no fines will be issued statewide, but local authorities may implement their own penalties. However, businesses and households that don’t comply with the law by 2024 will face penalties.


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