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CA Compost Law

Published January 12, 2022

Landfills are the third-largest source of methane, but SB 1383 plans to change that.

To reduce methane emissions in California, SB 1383  Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016, was passed in September 2016 and goes into effect on January 1, 2022. The purpose of this new legislation is “to reduce organic waste disposal by 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025 and rescue people to eat at least 20% of currently disposed of surplus food by 2025.” In California, landfills are the third-largest source of methane. The elimination of these pollutants will significantly aid in the long and rigorous journey to healing our planet. 


The new law requires businessesresidents, and schools with specific mandates to separate their organic and compostable trash by local governments’ requirements providing organics recycling collection to all residents and businesses to achieve this purpose. According to CalRecyle, each city, county, or special district “can select from a variety of organic waste collection services to match their unique communities and local infrastructure while producing clean streams of organic feedstock that can be recycled into high-quality, marketable recycled products, including compost, renewable natural gas, electricity, and paper”; however, common “‘organic waste’ includes food, green material, landscape, and pruning waste, organic textiles and carpets, lumber, wood, paper products, printing and writing paper, manure, biosolids, digestate, and sludges.” CalRecyle has provided guidelines for local governments to assist with compliance.


Local jurisdictions must also implement the organic recycling program through outreach, education, identification, and monitoring with resources available at CalRecycleSigns are also available in Spanish, Mandarin, Punjabi, Korean, and Russian, so everyone can be aware of this new law and separate their trash accordingly. This way, there are no boundaries regarding who can adequately dispose of organic waste. The law also permits local jurisdictions to implement fines for noncompliance.


Many cities and counties, including the City of Long Beach, which currently runs a pilot program, have obtained waivers for implementing the law from CalRecycle, the agency charged with enforcement, due to COVID-19.


SB 1383 is the first statewide initiative requiring all state residents to separate organic waste Businesses with questions should go to CalRecyle or contact your local jurisdiction.  For summaries and other new laws for 2022, see also New California Laws and New California Legislative Acts.