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California’s New Food Waste Law Takes Effect: FAQs for SB 1383

Understanding Food Waste Laws

Organic waste diversion and management have become important elements of integrated waste management systems for jurisdictions across the United States. In California, Assembly Bill (AB) 341, AB 1826, and most recently Senate Bill (SB) 1383 regulations require that food and other compostable materials be kept out of landfills and surplus edible food be donated, all in an effort to help fight climate change. The state law went into effect on January 1, 2022, and sets the following state-level goals:

  • A 75% reduction in the statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2025
  • A 20% increase in edible food recovery by 2025

The law seeks to cut down on the amount of methane released into the atmosphere from the breakdown of organic matter in our landfills. Methane emissions from landfills are a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contributing to global climate change.

So how does SB 1383 impact businesses in California?

SB 1383 is not the first state law to regulate California businesses and the collection of organic waste. In September 2014, California’s Governor approved AB 1826, which required businesses to subscribe to organic waste recycling services. The law was structured to phase in covered businesses over time based on the amount of waste produced. As a result, most businesses should have a program in place to manage organic waste.

SB 1383 requires local jurisdictions to adopt an enforceable ordinance, contract with an organic waste collection service, provide education and outreach, and perform periodic contamination checks and waste audits to enforce and penalize non-compliant generators. SB 1383 impacts all generators, including single-family and multi-family residential, as well as all businesses. Regulations require local jurisdictions to take enforcement action on non-compliant generators starting January 1, 2024.

Businesses that fail to implement an organic waste collection program may be subject to regulatory fines.

What is considered “organic” under SB 1383?

Organic waste includes but is not limited to food, green waste, landscape and pruning waste, non-hazardous wood waste, and food-soiled paper.

What do businesses need to do to comply?

California businesses are required to:

  • Divert organic materials from the landfill by subscribing to and participating in an organics collection service or self-hauling the organic waste to a specified composting facility.
  • Provide collection containers for organic waste and recyclables to employees, contractors, and customers.
  • Recover edible food to the maximum amount possible and maintain records. Tier 1 generators must comply by January 1, 2022 and include supermarkets, grocery stores ≥ 7,500 square feet, food service distributors, and wholesale markets. Tier 2 generators must comply by January 1, 2024 and include restaurants with ≥ 250 seats, hotels with onsite food facility and ≥ 200 rooms, health facilities, state agencies, education agencies, large venues, and events.

What if your business generates a minimal amount of organic waste?

Commercial businesses that generate a de minimis amount of organic material or have physical space constraints to set up a program may submit an exemption waiver to their local jurisdiction. In order to be eligible for either of these exemptions, the commercial business must meet the following:

  • De Minimis Waiver: Generate no more than 10 gallons of organic waste per week for < 2 cubic yards weekly service OR generate no more than 20 gallons of organic waste per week for > 2 cubic yards weekly service
  • Physical Space Waiver: Physical space constraints that prohibit the addition of an organics collection container

Responsibility for SB 1383 implementation and compliance has been placed on local jurisdictions; however, businesses will be required to do their part to implement an effective organics collection program or risk potential enforcement and monetary fines in the future.

How can APTIM support your business?

APTIM has experience implementing organics management programs in compliance with AB 1826 and SB 1383, developing organics policy and procedures, and monitoring organic diversion performance. From creating an actionable plan for studying the existing infrastructure, to dispatching field teams for data collection and outreach, APTIM can assist your business to achieve compliance under SB 1383.

APTIM is a nationally recognized provider of solid waste solutions with more than 30 years of experience working with customers to plan and implement public programs and services. The APTIM team is poised and ready to support your organic waste management needs.

By: Amy Martinez, CHMM, PMP, APTIM

APTIM. Expect the Extraordinary.

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