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Why new California law SB-1383 can give planet Earth a brighter future

Posted at 1:21 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 23:55:45-04

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (KGTV) — Like clockwork every morning, National City resident Victor Sanchez cuts up his breakfast and throws the scraps into a small compost caddy that sits on his countertop.

Once it's full, he tosses it in a paper bag and into the yard waste outside.

For some, this process might sound confusing and unfamiliar. But for Sanchez, it's a head start.

"We read about it, learned about it and we already had a green bin," said Sanchez.

As of Jan. 1, 2022, a new California law states all residents and businesses can no longer throw food waste like bones, eggs, dairy, and other organic material, including pizza boxes and napkins, into the landfill, also known as your garbage bin.

Instead, those scraps must be tossed into your yard waste bin, making compost caddies a future household staple.

"When I saw that new state legislation kick in, it was a kick in the seat of the pants; we're now seeing new infrastructure put in place," said Jessica Toth, who runs the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation in Encinitas.

Toth and her team have been trying to keep food waste out of the landfill, long before California Senate Bill 1383 was passed, through their independent compost program.

"Forty percent of landfill is organic material to date, and we need to keep it out because it is detrimental to the environment when it off-gases methane," Toth described.

Methane is a greenhouse gas scientists have argued for decades is a driving force of climate change.

"We're seeing the droughts and fires. I think people want to know what they can do," said Toth.

And less food and organic material in landfills mean less methane emitted into the atmosphere.

Toth added, "We only have the capacity to manage a third of all that we're producing today, and we need to find solutions.”

Composting starts with food scraps and other organic materials like mulch and plant debris. It's all mixed in a large bin heating naturally over time, killing pathogens and seeds but keeping vital nutrients.

This results in an amendment, also known as compost, that you can toss right back into the soil bringing food waste full circle.

Toth added city waste facilities across the state will either take the composting approach or turn organic waste into renewable natural gas through anaerobic digestors.

"In time, we will be where we are with recycling. Children understand about recycling, and they encourage their families to participate, we're seeing the same thing with organic material,” said Toth.