So, you might have heard about a new “food scrap recycling” program in the news, seen info about “organics diversion” in Greener Davis newsletters, or received a mailer about it in your mailbox recently. The new organic waste regulations under SB 1383 that went into effect on January 1, 2022, are a big deal (OK, a really big deal).
Sorting out recyclables and organic wastes from the trash has been required in Davis since 2016, but now it’s required statewide. There are also some specific details in the state law that are new for everyone, including Davis. This law represents the biggest change to the solid waste industry since California first required recycling programs in 1989—and there’s an interesting reason for that.
Despite the state passing a variety of laws aimed at recycling 75% of the waste in California, the statewide recycling rate has continued to plummet. Although Davis diverts 67% of its waste from the landfill, the statewide average is closer to 37%. Yikes!
Although Davis diverts 67% of its waste from the landfill, the statewide average is closer to 37%.
It’s not just about recycling and saving resources either. It’s beyond that. When certain kinds of wastes–organic wastes–are buried in landfills, they emit 20% of the state’s methane (a climate super pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide) as well as air pollutants that contribute to health conditions like asthma. Recent studies have shown that more than half of what Californians send to landfills is organic waste, such as food scraps, yard trimmings, paper, and cardboard. This plays a significant role in our state greenhouse gas emissions and is contributing to climate change.
When organic wastes are buried in landfills, they emit 20% of the state’s methane as well as air pollutants that contribute to health conditions like asthma.
Recognizing that something needed to change, the State finalized the new waste sorting laws, under Senate Bill 1383: Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, aiming to reduce methane gas from landfills. And not just by a little bit. It establishes statewide targets to reduce the amount of organic waste disposed of in landfills (50% reduction by 2020 and 75% by 2025) and sets a goal to rescue at least 20% of edible food by 2025 and redirect that food to people in need. The new regulations mean that we all need to sort out our waste correctly.

So What is Organic Waste?

As it pertains to SB 1383, the state defines “organic waste” as food, landscape trimmings, lumber, wood, cardboard (yes, cardboard), food-soiled paper products, printing and writing paper, and other plant and animal-based products. These are the types of materials that produce methane gas when buried in a landfill.

Take a close look at what’s in the trash bin nearest you right now. Is there used facial tissue in there? Paper towels? Paper plates? Paper take-out coffee cups? All of those items are organic waste and can be placed in the organic waste bin to be turned into compost. Learn more about what can go into your organics cart and what can be recycled.

Sorting your waste into the correct bin makes a difference. By keeping recyclables and organic wastes out of the landfill, you can make a positive impact on the climate crisis.

Recycling and Organic Waste Collection Service

In order to make sure that the maximum amount of recyclables and organic waste is kept out of the landfill, the law requires that all residents and business have sufficient recycling and organic waste collection service to ensure separation of all of their recyclables and organic wastes from the trash. This is easy in Davis, as unlimited recycling service and standard organics collection service is already included in your monthly solid waste rates.
  • Recycling: All Recology Davis customers have recycling service at no additional cost. Do you need an extra recycling cart? No problem! Property owners and business managers can contact Recology Davis to request additional recycling carts for free.
  • Cardboard boxes: Recology Davis collects cardboard from all customers if boxes are emptied, flattened, and stacked flat on the ground for collection. We made a short video on cardboard recycling that shows how easy this is! Some businesses and multi-family communities have a cardboard recycling bin for empty and flattened boxes. Businesses and multi-family communities that don’t have a cardboard bin and generate large volumes of cardboard should contact Recology to be added to the cardboard collection route (this is free!).
  • Organic waste: All Recology Davis customers receive one organics cart that is serviced once per week (restaurants have a smaller cart that is serviced twice a week as part of their solid waste collection service. Additional carts are available for a fee. Property owners can contact Recology to request additional organics carts.
Instead of using Recology Davis collection services, residents and businesses can request to share a cart with a neighbor or self-haul their recyclables and/or organic wastes. However, all recyclables and organic wastes still need to be recycled and/or composted and may not be landfilled. More information is available on our website.

What Goes in the Bin?

The new SB 1383 regulations require that all recyclables and organic wastes be kept out of the trash and placed into the correct bin. We developed some videos that can help make sorting a breeze! Click on the links below to watch videos on how to sort waste at each location:
If you’re into video games, we’ve got two online video games just for you! Try Zero Waste Sorting and see how good you are at sorting waste into the correct bin as it falls from the sky. Just don’t let it pile all the way up to the ceiling! There’s also a zero waste matching game as well. Check the games out on our website!
Share these videos and online games with your family, housemates, co-workers, or employees so we can all keep recyclables and organic waste out of the trash!


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