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What you need to know about California’s new composting law

There's a new law in California that will change how you throw away your trash from here on out.

The law came into effect on Jan. 1 and it requires residents and businesses to recycle all of their organic food and yard waste.

California residents will need to sort their leftover food and kitchen scraps and yard waste from the rest of their trash for composting. The waste becomes compost and can be mixed in with soil.

CalRecycle says the law is designed to cut back on organic waste in landfills which emit methane gas.

"That methane gas gets into the atmosphere destroys our ozone. Obviously, we all know that that's bad for the environment, which is the reason why this bill exists," said Palm Springs Disposal Services president Chris Cunningham.

According to CalRecylce, organic waste in landfills emits 20% of the state’s methane which is a climate pollutant that is 84 times stronger than carbon dioxide. CalReycle also says that organics like food scraps, yard trimmings, paper, and cardboard make up half of what Californians dump in landfills. 

The law will be implemented at different times depending on your city and waste collector. 

Palm Springs city manager Justin Clifton compares the change to when recycling was first started.

"It took a little while for everybody to catch up but eventually it became pretty commonplace," said Clifton. "I think that's the goal with something like composting as well."

The law requires every city and county to provide organic waste collection services to all residents and businesses. The jurisdictions will need to educate residents and businesses about collection requirements, including what materials to put in curbside bins.

Clifton said the City of Palm Springs hopes to officially implement the changes at the start of July. 

"It's really planning the rates, planning the logistics of the collection, getting organized with new bins and all the education that goes along with explaining to people what to do with when the new bin once it arrives," said Clifton. "It's addressing the climate crisis, and getting us a little more accustomed to the habits that we're really going to need in the future to deal with these things in a better way."

The law will take on a gradual rollout. It will be implemented at different times over the next two years depending on what city or county you live in.

The City of Indio provided this statement about their rollout:

"The City of Indio holds regular compost exchanges as part of our sustainability events, and already provides green waste bins for residents, which can be used to dispose of their organic waste, like food scraps, in accordance with SB 1383. The first part of implementing this plan is through education about the importance of reducing greenhouse gases through food waste diversion, and we have already started that process.  Over the next few months, residents can expect to see detailed direction about how to separate their food waste and toss it into their green waste containers.  In the meantime, those who’d like to make the commitment now, can do so by putting food and organic waste into a paper bag and including that bag into their green waste containers."

Burrtec Waste and Recycling Services is the trash hauler for the majority if the Coachella Valley. In a statement to News Channel 3 they said:

"Burrtec would like to reassure our customers that prior to any service enhancements a notice will be mailed to property and business owners as well as additional electronic forms of communication as programs are implemented. 

At this time, residents will not see a change in their current services and are not required to modify current food and green waste disposal. Please do not place food waste directly into the green waste container, at this time. We expect residential organics programs to be in place by late fall of 2022– please stay tuned for more information and upcoming events where we will partner with our cities to provide additional resources and information on all of our recycling programs and services."

By 2024 the state said it will start imposing fines on those who fail to do it correctly.

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.

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