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Posted on: January 10, 2022

Recycling Organic Material a 2022 Mandate for California

Recycling Organic Material_Mandate for CA

Your food scraps will no longer be allowed in the garbage.

It’s January 2022 and a State regulation has just gone into effect to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from landfills known as Senate Bill 1383.  The legislation requires all cities and other public agencies to take significant actions to divert organic waste from landfills, including food scraps and yard waste. The State now requires that this organic waste be collected and treated separately from the rest of the waste stream.


California is the first state to impose such a regulation in the country. The State goal aims to reduce organic waste disposal -  50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025. When organic waste, such as food scraps get buried in the landfill, it creates large amounts of methane gas that contribute to climate change. 


Since 2016, the City of Watsonville has been taking the necessary steps to actively meet this goal. “Over the last five years, we have prevented 3,200 tons of food waste generated by businesses and schools from being buried in the landfill each year,” said Cristy Cassel, Environmental Projects Manager for the City’s Department of Public Works & Utilities. “We have over 60 businesses and 10 schools enrolled in our organics collection service, and every month we are adding more.”  


Watsonville’s organic waste is hauled to Monterey Regional Waste Management District where it is windrowed and turned into rich compost for farmers to use. 


As part of this mandate, 2022 is the year where this organic service has to be provided to all residents. The City of Watsonville launched a residential pilot program at two apartment sites and one trailer park in November of 2020 as their first step toward meeting the new regulation.


“We wanted to start with a pilot program to figure out the kinks and explore the challenges that we will need to address before rolling it out to the rest of the city,” explained Cassel. 


Asking residents to separate their food waste and no longer throw it in the trash will be a behavior change that will take time for some to adjust.“ Our hope is that residents understand the big picture and the huge contribution they are making to keep our air clean,” said Cassel. 


From March through June the City will be delivering approximately 6,000 35-gallon green carts to single-family households who do not currently have yard waste service for collection of their food scraps along with instructions. Those with an existing yard waste cart will be able to include food waste once the City notifies them. 


Watsonville does not anticipate fully implementing this new program until July 1st at which time every resident and commercial business in Watsonville will be provided organics disposal service.    


The City will also be transitioning to weekly pickup of all trash as part of this rollout. Among some of the things that will be allowed in the green cart, include dairy products (no liquids), eggs, vegetables, meat, seafood, and grains, as well as yard waste. 


“To ensure success, ongoing information will be mailed out and posted on social media to help residents make a smooth transition,” mentioned Cassel, “our two auditors will also do weekly inspections of carts to avoid contamination and leave “oops tags” when we find the wrong items in the cart.”  

   

SB1383 has many more requirements that municipalities need to implement this year, including preventing “edible food” from stores, restaurants, and schools from going to waste and procuring the compost locally. Each city and county will have to establish an Edible Food Recovery Program and work with local programs, such as the Food Bank, to help redistribute the food to feed those in need.

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