SB 1383: Reducing Food and Organic Waste to Reduce Global Warming

 by Gifford Hall and Margaret Gainer

The most significant waste reduction mandate to be adopted in California in the last 30 years, SB1383, was signed into law in 2016 by California Governor Jerry Brown as part of an ongoing legislative effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP).

SB 1383 requires the state to reduce organic waste (food waste, green waste, wood waste, and fibers such as paper and cardboard) disposal by 75% by 2025.  This means the state must reduce organic waste disposal by more than 20 million tons annually by 2025. The law also requires the state to increase edible food recovery by 20 percent by 2025. This has significant policy and legal implications for the state and local governments.

After the announcement about the passage of SB 1383 four years ago, CalRecycle, the state agency responsible for informing local governments about how to comply, began an active program of workshops, webinars, and education. They have emphasized a sense of urgency for local government planning. The Humboldt County Division of Environmental Health also communicated this urgency to the Board of Supervisors at their January 28, 2020 meeting more than a year ago. 

SLCP’s include black carbon, fluorinated gases, and methane — potent, harmful particles that pose significant negative impacts to air quality and public health, and exacerbate climate change.  SB 1383 includes several new regulations that aim to reduce both the production and emissions of methane, hydrofluorocarbon gases and anthropogenic black carbon by upwards of 50% below 2013 levels by 2030.  The major goal of SB 1383 is the reduction of landfill methane emissions caused by food waste and other organics. Some studies estimate that organic matter decomposing in landfills account for up to 16% of total methane emissions.

In Humboldt County, food and organic waste makes up approximately 30% of the total amount of waste disposed. It costs more than $700,000 annually to transport 15,000 tons of Humboldt County’s food waste to the Dry Creek Landfill in Eagle Point, Oregon, north of Medford. The County of Humboldt, its cities, and Humboldt Waste Management Authority have been slow to respond to SB1383 and related food waste and organics reduction laws.
It will require advance planning and cooperation among jurisdictions, local business and Humboldt County’s residents. Six local environmental and climate change organizations have urged Humboldt Waste Management Authority to address implementation of SB 1383 and related legislation as a top priority at their February 11, 2021 meeting.

SB 1383 regulations also require local cities and counties to conduct education and outreach on organics recycling to all residents, businesses (including those that generate edible food that can be donated), haulers, solid waste facilities, and local food banks and other food recovery organizations.  This new law requires up to 20% of edible food be recovered and diverted from food and organic waste sources by 2025.  

The implementation deadline for SB1383 is January 1, 2022.  To learn more about how you can get involved contact