Reduce Food Waste to Fight Climate Change
California is experiencing a climate crisis which includes record-breaking temperatures, longer fire seasons, extreme droughts, and rising sea levels. These extreme weather events are partly caused by decomposed organic material such as food and yard debris in landfills that produce greenhouse gases. California lawmakers have passed a law designed to reduce greenhouse gases by diverting organic waste from landfills.
What Organic Waste Must Be Recycled?
Meats, dairy products (no liquids), fruits, vegetables, spoiled food, breads, leftovers, eggshells, nutshells, seafood, bones, coffee grounds, and tea bags.
Paper towels, napkins, non-shiny paper plates, paper cups, paper grocery bags with food scraps, greasy pizza boxes, and coffee filters.
YARD TRIMMINGS &
Grass clippings, leaves, weeds, pine needles, flowers, plant trimmings, small amounts of sod, and branches less than 3 inches in diameter.
EDIBLE FOOD TO LOS ANGELES
FAMILIES IN NEED
Food service providers such as food distributors, restaurants, or grocery stores, are in the unique position to recover excess edible food that is safe to consume and donate it to local food recovery organizations that serve Los Angeles families in need.
Organic Waste Reduction Targets
SB 1383 establishes the following targets to reduce emissions:
Reduction in statewide organic waste disposal by 2025 (from 2014 baseline)
Rescue at least 20% of currently disposed edible food for human consumption
How To Comply?
Mandatory organic waste collection services are being rolled-out in phases throughout 2022 depending on your service area. Your waste hauler will provide specific information on when and how to separate your waste materials into the correct containers to ensure proper processing of organic waste and reduce contamination. Other options include managing your organic waste on-site such as composting, donating food scraps to a local farm, or self-hauling to a local composting site.
Food waste accounts for 25% of the total disposed waste from multi-family residences (5 units or more).
SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCES & MULTI-FAMILY (2-4 UNITS)
As a single-family household, a large portion of your waste may be organic materials, such as green waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper. With the new organic waste collection service, most residents will continue to use their current containers for trash, recyclables, and green waste, but place food waste in with their yard or green waste container.
Click on the following links for more information:
- Residents with Cart Services
- Residents in Garbage Disposal Districts
- Residents with Dumpster Services
You may self-manage all or part of your organic waste. Self-management includes, but is not limited to self-hauling, back-hauling, or on-site composting. If you self-haul your organic waste, you must take it to an acceptable community compost center. If you would like to manage your organic waste on site, and learn more about backyard composting, please visit SmartGardening.com. Webinar attendees may purchase a discounted compost bin. If you self-manage, you will be required to register and submit information to Los Angeles County Public Works to ensure compliance.
Businesses generate nearly 70% of solid waste in California.
THESE REQUIREMENTS APPLY TO ALL FOR-PROFIT AND NON-PROFIT BUSINESSES, INCLUDING GOVERNMENT OFFICES, AND INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES.
- Subscribe to an organic waste collection service in addition to garbage and recycling through a franchised hauling company for your area.
- Businesses can self-haul their materials and must ensure organic waste and recyclables are not landfilled, and receipts and weight tickets are kept on file. If your business self-manages any part of your organic waste, such as through self-hauling, backyard composting, or back-hauling, you will be required to register and submit information to Los Angeles County Public Works to ensure compliance.
- Provide an adequate number of organic waste and recycling containers to employees, contractors, tenants, and customers.
- Containers for organic waste and recycling must be provided in all areas where garbage containers are present, except for restrooms, or inside multi-family dwelling units.
- Educate your tenants and staff on how to separate organic waste and recycling from garbage.
- Containers must have labels with language and/or graphic images so employees or tenants can indicate primary materials accepted and prohibited by your hauler.
Inspect containers periodically to make sure the right materials are going in the right containers.
- Businesses may apply for a temporary waiver by the and exempt from some or all of the requirements, if they can provide adequate documentation and evidence to support one of the waiver options. More details coming soon.
Schools dispose of over 500,000 tons of solid waste in California each year, according to the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.
All businesses who donate to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that uses the food for the care of the ill, the needy, or infants can receive an enhanced tax deduction.
COMMERCIAL ENTITIES REQUIRED TO COMPLY STARTING
JANUARY 1, 2022
- Grocery stores (with a total facility size ≥ 10,000 sq.ft.)
- Food service providers (contracted)
- Food distributors
- Wholesale food vendors
COMMERCIAL ENTITIES REQUIRED TO COMPLY STARTING
JANUARY 1, 2024
- Restaurants (with ≥ 250 seats, or ≥ 5,000 sq. ft.)
- Hotels (with an on-site food facility and ≥ 200 rooms)
- Health facilities (with on-site food facility and ≥ 100 beds)
- Large venues
- Large events
- State agencies (with a cafeteria with ≥ 250 seats, or ≥ 5,000 sq. ft.)
- Local education agencies (with an on-site food facility)
Frequently Asked Questions
Organic waste is material that comes from living organisms such as, but not limited to, food, food scraps, food-soiled paper, paper products, yard or green waste, wood, manure, and organic textiles like cotton.
When organic waste is buried in a landfill and decomposes, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that pollutes the air and contributes to climate change. In 2016, California established a goal to reduce methane emissions by targeting landfills that are one of the top three sources of methane production in the state. Thus, the State waste authority CalRecycle developed regulations to achieve this goal, requiring the separation of organic waste to be composted instead of landfilled to fight climate change.
Organic waste collection services may vary slightly depending on the area you are in and what is accepted by the organics processing facility your waste hauler takes the waste to. Containers must be labeled and/or have images to indicate the primary materials accepted and prohibited by your hauler. Generally, organic waste collection service includes the acceptance of green or yard waste, food and beverage soiled paper, and food scraps.
Violations involving container contamination are generally not subject to fines, but you will receive a notice on how to properly sort your waste. If contamination occurs repeatedly or in large amounts, or you are intentionally not participating in proper separation of your waste, then your waste hauler may issue you a contamination fee.
Options to store food waste and reduce odors are placing food scraps in lidded containers (such as in an empty coffee tub) in your freezer until waste collection day, line your container with readily available organic material such as newspaper, brown yard waste, to absorb odor causing liquids, frequent cleaning of your container, and keeping your container in a dark and cool area. Additional ideas may be provided by your organic waste hauler for how to store your food scraps prior to placing them in the green cart or bin they provide.
All residents in multi-family housing (including occupants of apartment or condo complexes) are required to participate in some form of organic waste collection service from their waste hauler. Speak to your landlord or property manager responsible for compliance to learn more about how to sort your waste including food, yard, recyclables, and waste that cannot be recycled.
Residential customers already receive a default 3-cart service; thus, there is no need to decline the converted green waste cart that will be used for organic waste collection service. There are 2 waivers that will be considered for businesses only, a De Minimis Waiver or a Physical Space Waiver. The County may grant a De Minimus Waiver to a business that that can demonstrate either of the following:
a. It generates more than two cubic yards of Solid Waste per week and less than 20 gallons per week that would need to be placed in an Organic Waste Container; or
b. It generates less than two cubic yards per week of Solid Waste and less than 10 gallons per week that would need to be placed in an Organic Waste Container.
A business may choose to self-haul or self-manage some or all of their organic waste so that they could qualify for a De Minimus Waiver and opt out of the organic waste collection service from their waste hauler.
The County may grant a Physical Space Waiver to a business if it can adequately demonstrate that the premises lack adequate space for multiple containers required by an Organic Waste Collection Service?
Does the Mandatory Organic Waste Disposal Reduction Ordinance apply to schools and other educational facilities?
Yes, educational facilities, such as schools, school districts, county offices of education, community colleges, universities, and other educational facilities are required to subscribe to organic waste collection service or self-manage organic waste.
Yes, the County encourages food waste reduction and edible food donation whenever possible.
Why are Large Food Generators required to have a written agreement with Food Recovery Organizations?
The Agreement is intended to assist large food generators and food recovery organizations participate in continuous donation as well as comply with the State regulations.
The county is contacting businesses to assess and determine the amount of food that will need to be donated.
Food recovery organizations such as food banks redistribute edible food to food insecure individuals and families fighting food waste, hunger, and pollution simultaneously.
No. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation ActPDF download protects donors from liability and encourages the donation of suitable food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals.
Yes, businesses may self-haul their food waste to a permitted organic waste processing facility such as a composting site, back-haul organic waste to a central location for their waste hauler to collect, or compost organic waste on-site.
Food service providers must donate food to a food recovery organization such as a food bank, take measures to prevent food waste, and subscribe to organic waste collection service or self-manage organic waste by self-hauling or managing on-site such as through composting.
Food waste collected by a hauler is transported to a permitted organic waste processing facility that creates mulch, compost, energy, or fuel. Mulch and compost are deposited back to the earth where it can enrichen soil. Energy and fuel are used power electricity or fuel vehicles lessening our dependency on non-renewable energy and fuel resources. After the energy is extracted from the food waste, the remaining solids are used to create compost.
CAN’T FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?
Find Your Organic
For specific information about how organic waste is being managed in your community, contact your waste hauler. If you live in an unincorporated area, you may also call Los Angeles County Public Works staff at (888) 253-2652 from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. We also encourage you to check back to this website for additional updates.
*ADA and Title VI Accommodations: Individuals requiring reasonable accommodations, interpretation services, and materials in other languages or in an alternate format may contact Los Angeles County Public Works at (626) 458-5100. Requests will be processed within 7 days. Individuals with hearing or speech impairment may use California Relay Service 711.