In October, the city of Fountain Valley began requiring residents to dispose of organic waste, including food scraps, in green garden trash cans under California Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383), effective September 2016.
It officially went into effect at the beginning of 2022 and mandated that the city, county or district providing waste collection services collect organic waste and educate the community about change. Businesses and households will receive this service, and some collection agencies allow residents to transport their waste themselves.
According to a letter sent from the city to Fountain Valley residents and waste collector Republic Services, SB 1383 plans to reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfills to minimize air pollution such as methane emissions.
“SB 1383 sets goals to reduce statewide organic waste disposal; A reduction of 50% from 2014 level to 2020 and 75% by 2025,” Republic Services and the city said in the letter.
Organic waste is currently approx. 50% of the material It’s in landfills that are the source of about 20% of California’s methane emissions that cause climate change and the problems that come with it.
Instead of placing organic waste in landfills, collection services will take it to a composting or anaerobic digestion facility to produce compost, renewable energy or paper. Also, the new bill aims to at least dispense 20% of currently wasted food to the people who will eat it.
Republic Services also sent out a flyer and stickers explaining what materials residents can and cannot throw in each colored waste bin. The company aims to have residents put stickers on the lids of organic waste containers to remind them of what they can put inside.
Now, residents can throw all kinds of food scraps, including eggshells, coffee grounds, juice and more, into the green organic waste bin, along with their garden waste. Food-contaminated paper products such as tea bags and pizza boxes will also be accepted.
Residents are allowed to place their food scraps in paper bags before throwing them into the organic waste bin, but any waste that is not in the paper bag must be released in the container.
However, there are a few materials that cannot be placed in the green container: manure, pet waste, plastics, recyclables, and more. People should also avoid putting fats and oils, dirt, stones or raw meat in this bin. Even other recyclable, compostable or biodegradable materials cannot be thrown into the organics bin.
SB 1383 also mandates contamination monitoring of household waste bins to ensure the correct materials are sorted into different bins. If bins become dirty, collectors leave a notification and multiple notifications may result in a charge.
Republic Services recommends that people have ready containers for leftovers in their kitchens. When the container is full, they can empty it directly into the larger green collection bin.
Some people may have concerns about the odor that collecting food waste may produce. In the brochure, Republic Services offers some suggestions for tackling this issue.
Smaller kitchen waste containers can be lined with paper bags that will be removed when full or rinsed to stay clean. They can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until the day of collection to reduce odor.
Adding baking soda to both the kitchen bowl and the organic waste bin itself will mask odors. In the large green organic waste container, filling the bin with garden waste first and rinsing after collecting can also help.
Because SB 1383 did not provide funding for the project, Republic Services and the city of Fountain Valley have warned of price increases to waste collection bills from Oct. Despite these concerns, this transition has the potential to enter the day-to-day practice of many Fountain Valley residents.
Fountain Valley High School senior Hailey Hoang commented that her home “always” uses the green trash can, but they currently do not have any food compost system. However, when he heard about the recent change in waste collection, Hoang expressed his desire to make changes.
“I used to try to throw food waste into the green trash can,” Hoang said. “I feel like it will take time, but at some point (I will switch to composting using the green trash can) I will.”
Overall, the collection of organic waste has the potential to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions and encourage further progress towards sustainable practices in the state.