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Composting is now the law in California. Here’s how it will be implemented in SLO County

Rachel Showalter

It’s now the law in California to compost things like leaves and food scraps, thanks to recently-implemented organic waste legislation.

The bill is known as SB 1383. It’s a statewide effort to reduce organic matter in landfills and lessen methane emissions, which contribute to climate change

“This is massive. It’s groundbreaking. It’s the most massive piece of solid waste regulation to be passed in the last 30 years,” said San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) Deputy Director Patti Toews.

By 2025, Toews said SB 1383 requires a 75 percent reduction of organic waste disposal from landfills statewide compared to 2014 numbers. The goal is to repurpose organic waste for things like renewable energy or compost mulch.

Effective January 1 of this year, local waste jurisdictions across the state are required to take steps to contribute to this goal.

Kelly York is the program manager for the IWMA. She said they’re implementing a number of programs to reduce organic waste in landfills.

“Moving forward, this will affect businesses, residents, grocery stores [and] eventually restaurants if they’re large enough,” York said.

She said residents won’t see any sort of fines for not composting properly, but they may see people conducting spot checks by lifting trash can lids and spreading educational pamphlets door-to-door.

“Let’s say that you have a bag full of food in your gray trash container, right? You’d get educational notices to let you know how to sort things,” York said.

Toews said the IWMA is offering incentives, like free waste training and countertop compost bins, to motivate residents and businesses to make the transition.

Toews said the new green waste efforts could also result in rate increases locally.

“It takes more trucks, it takes more containers, Toews said. "All of this isn’t for free. It costs money to do that.”

Toews said the best way to compost is to mix food waste with things like leaves from the yard loosely in the green bin. But, she said, biodegradable bags should be placed in the trash because they degrade at a different rate. Green waste is collected on the same day as trash and recycling.

Toews said residents can expect to find informational notices in their mailboxes about best practices for composting around the first week of February. For more information, click here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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