Food waste that ends up in landfills is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions — but California is doing something about that. Senate Bill 1383, passed in 2016, went into effect on January 1st. The law will ensure that municipalities divert a whopping 75% of organic waste from landfills by 2025.
Approximately one third of the waste that ends up in landfills is compostable. In 2019, the EPA estimated that landfill methane emissions from organic waste were nearly equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 21.6 million passenger vehicles driven for one year.
While many cities in California will be offering an additional curbside bin for organic waste, a few are investing in complex machinery to improve participation. One such city is Santa Barbara. Because it can take time to educate residents on food separation and the race to get food waste out of the landfill is urgent, Santa Barbara city officials have decided to sort organic waste out of the trash for people. In July, the city opened the doors of its ReSource Center, a combination of a materials recovery facility that will sort and remove organic waste and an anaerobic digester that will process the organic waste into compost and biogas that will provide electricity.