Get ready for California's new composting law that will go into effect in a few days

Josue Torres

Californians will start the new year with the adoption of a historic bill that on Jan. 1 will transform the way they dispose of organic trash, including leftover food and kitchen scraps.

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Senate Bill 1383 mandates that all citizens and companies collect such green garbage from ordinary waste, but the scheme will be phased in over the following months, with the exact start date differing depending on where your home or company is located.

Failure to separate organic waste from regular waste might result in fines. However, such penalties aren’t expected to be implemented until 2024. CalRecycle, the state organization in charge of the transition, offers plenty of information on its website regarding the new regulations.

Residents and businesses can contact their local governments and garbage haulers to learn more about the restrictions that apply to their areas. 

It’s important to remember why this new bill is crucial: organic waste placed in regular landfills decomposes and produces methane, a super-pollutant with up to 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, according to scientists.

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To help halt global warming, the state intends to send the waste to composting centers or anaerobic digestion plants, where it can help sink carbon into the ground or collect natural gas to power garbage trucks, for example.

The majority of this extra food waste will be sent to massive composting facilities or units that will convert it to natural gas. 

In Los Angeles County alone, it is expected that 1.9 million tons of food waste will be diverted per year. To handle all of that, a dozen anaerobic digestion units would be required, at a cost of $840 million.

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