Residents and businesses of Napa are now required to separate organic materials, such as wood and food, from recycling and regular waste.
This change, required by Senate Bill 1383, officially came into effect on January 1. Napa City Council unanimously passed an ordinance enacting the change at a meeting in December.
The law aims to reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere by the decomposition of organic material such as banana peels and food scraps.
Kevin Miller, the city’s recycling manager, told council that SB 1383 is just about the most sweeping recycling legislation he’s seen in 30 years. The most comparable legislation was Assembly Bill 939, he said, which was passed in 1989 and prompted jurisdictions to step up recycling by forcing a reduction in recycled materials that ended up in landfills.
SB 1383, likewise, focuses on the diversion of organics and seeks to reduce organic waste disposal by 75% from 2014 level by 2025, and recover 20% more edible food. . Much of the law focuses on separating the three waste streams – garbage, compost and recycling – around which Napa’s recycling program has been designed for about five years, Miller said. The city so far, however, has only recommended separation.
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“SB 1383 is the full spectrum of organics,” Miller said. “So not just the conditional yard waste, but the food scraps and the soiled paper, everything is supposed to be captured and diverted from landfills.”
State enforcement of the Local Jurisdiction Act has now begun, and local jurisdictions – including the city of Napa – will be required to apply the law to residents and businesses starting in 2024.
And there is a wide range of other requirements that the city must follow. The city is now required to purchase 6,400 tonnes of organic waste – such as mulch, compost or renewable gas – each year, to purchase recycled printing, writing and cleaning materials and to keep detailed records on recycling, among others, Miller said.
He gave the city three out of five green ticks on its current overall compliance with far-reaching law. But the city will likely have up to two years to fully comply using Senate Bill 619, passed in October 2021, which allows the city to submit a notice of intent to comply with SB 1383 by now. March 1 and a plan to show how compliance will happen.
“The challenge with SB 1383 is that everything is supposed to be magically in place by January 2022,” Miller said. “That’s not the reality for 99% of the jurisdictions out there, I think. And if there are a few that are, I would question that, I would really watch them carefully. “
One point of improvement for Napa is the thrust of the law: to provide compostable organic waste collection to all residents and businesses, Miller said. While 99% of residential accounts have full composting service, only about a third of schools and businesses have full service, and 6% of multi-family accounts are currently compliant.
But, Miller said, Napa already has the programs and facilities to meet the requirements of SB 1383, which many California jurisdictions do not.
“We’re ahead of some things and a little behind others,” Miller said. We have had comprehensive residential and commercial composting programs since April 2015. That’s six years ahead of 1383 requirements and well ahead of most jurisdictions in North Bay and throughout California.
You can reach Edward Booth at (707) 256-2213.