California laws

New California Law Will Change How You Sort Trash

The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022, but it will take a while for cities and counties to get everyone on the same page with trash sorting and food waste prevention.

NBC Universal, Inc.

A new California law is designed to cut back on the organic waste in landfills responsible for emitting methane gas, and not only will it change the way residents sort trash, but it also aims to stop food waste from restaurants.

From food scraps to fruit trees, organic trash will have a new use.

And unused -- but still edible -- food will now be redirected instead of just tossed into a landfill.

According to the Department of Agriculture, about 40% of the food in the United States goes to waste.

This is part of what SB 1383 aims to change.

"About 20% of what goes to landfills is food waste," said Gina Van Stratten of Orange Compos.

Some of it will now be captured at a separate facility and made into biogas for fuel.

Stratten runs Orange Compost, a nonprofit food scrap collection service. Whatever she gathers ends up in compost piles at community gardens . The nutrient rich soil is then used to grow fruits and vegetables: a full circle of waste not, want not.

"It's really this community loop, right? The food waste from community compost -- from the community and used for food for the community," Stratten said.

The new law means now that process will start in your home.

Every city will have a different method. Some garbage companies will have separate bins at the street, and others will ask you to simply add the pungent leftovers to the green waste bin.

But it’s not just scraps. The law mandates 20% of excess edible food from restaurants, hospitals and supermarkets be sent to food banks.

Mike Learokos started Abound Food Care a decade ago, and owns one of seven repurposing kitchens in Orange County.

"This is going to be vacuumed sealed, blast frozen, and go to one of 300 nonprofits that feed hungry people," he said.

He says food repurposing is the new recycling.

The composting law goes into effect first day of 2022, but officials say it will take until August before the donors, nonprofits, cities and counties get it together and make this an everyday occurrence.

Contact Us