In California Kitchens Home Composting Is Now the Law

Chris Remington
Published Dec 25, 2023

As of January 1, 2022, California cities and homes must dispose of organic materials by recycling. A new state law adds organic kitchen wastes to the required materials for green waste recycling. Like garden clippings, and lawn care clippings, and leaves, Californian households must recycle food wastes and kitchen scraps. The goal is to reduce pollution-producing materials and put organic wastes back into the soil as compost or mulched material.

Operating Through Cities and Local Governments

The law operates through cities and local governments. Some more advanced California cities already used green recycling, and for them only minor changes might be required. Other cities will initiate pilot programs and grow into workable programs for their communities.

Cities and other units of local government can supply bins and pickup services to remove green wastes for recycling. Once picked up, the green wastes go to special processing rather than a landfill. Los Angeles initiated a pilot program using about 18,000 households. The LA experiment adds kitchen wastes to green can collections.

The law uses local governments to set the best practices and rules for their communities. For example, a city might urge meat and seafood scraps or dairy products. Cities can expand or reduce their lists of eligible recyclables, and the below-listed items are among the typical foods for recycling.

- Fruit, Juice pulp, and vegetable scraps
- Egg shells and coffee grounds
- Used paper food containers
- Coffee filters, tea bags,
- Paper plates, paper towels, and tissues

Pandemic Increases Home Cooking

The pandemic has likely changed household routines across the US. Californians appear to have increased the use of home cooking and spend fewer nights eating out at restaurants and eateries. The composting law can take advantage of the shift.

More home cooking means more opportunities to recycle kitchen and other organic wastes. Recycled wastes can include food packaging and paper products used in cooking or serving. The composting law relies upon cooperation and a shared understanding that individual contributions matter in the fight against climate change.

Adjusting to Change and Learning New Things

The composting law may be the biggest change to trash processing in California since recycling in the mid-1980's. The general understanding of the benefits of recycling are not new to California . Recycling has a long tradition in California as a tool for environmental improvement.

Trial and error experiences have taught California's households the correct and incorrect ways to separate trash and kitchen wastes. In the early stages, some family recycling efforts resulted in smelly messes and the need to start again. While thousands of residents purchased recycling and composting kits, other households used no cost methods. Brown paper bags in a freezer and layering food wastes with yard trimmings are among the simple and effective methods.

Composting has a long and productive history among organic farmers and hobby gardeners. Composting has the virtue of a chemical free approach to soil enrichment which benefits the environment California's weather and usual climate is ideal for growing a wide-range of food and floral plants, and a new wave of urban gardeners is an exciting trend in Southern California cities.

Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change

Greenhouse gases are the targets of the composting law. Landfills can become sources of unwanted greenhouse gases. Methane is one of the leading causes of global warming, and organic wastes in landfills are a significant source of methane pollution.

Using wastes to fight pollution while returning nutrients to the soil serves two popular purposes. Recycling cuts methane levels at landfills, and natural methods for enriching the soil also reduces the use of pollutants.

Fighting Climate Change One Bucket at a Time

Californians appear to be warming up to the challenge of composting to fight global warming. The goal of the new California compost law is to reduce the use of landfills for temporary wastes. The overall contribution of increased composting will save funds, reduce greenhouse gases, and help reduce greenhouse gases.

California as a state has seen the impact of climate in vivid and unforgettable ways. In recent years, the state's resilient and forward-thinking population has faced wildfires, mudslides, and drought. California has been a leader in the struggle for air quality. Home composting advances the goals of clean air and reducing the impacts of climate change.

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