The arrival of 2022 has ushered in a new era of food waste recycling by locals and increased sharing of edible food surpluses by some food-related businesses.
California Senate Bill (SB) 1383 seeks to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions known to cause global warming and drastic weather by reducing the amount of organic matter going to landfills. To help reduce the problem, we are now required to separate food scraps and food-soiled paper products from regular garbage and bring them to the curb in greens recycling containers.
According to CalRecycle, the state agency responsible for SB 1383 regulatory standards, Californians throw away 5-6 million tons of food waste each year and throw away 1.8 billion unsold (still edible) meals each year. Wasted food sent to landfill rots and turns into methane, a greenhouse gas that CalRecycle cites as contributing to climate change, such as rising sea levels, reduced snow cover, wildfires , drought and heat waves. To avoid this, organic materials must now be composted at home or “recycled” by waste management operators.
EDCO is Alvarado Estates’ waste hauler. EDCO, a local company operating since 1967, also serves SDSU and the city of La Mesa, in addition to other residential and commercial establishments in San Diego and California. EDCO will now collect our residential food waste mixed with our landscape recycling. According to Yvette Snyder, Director of Communications at EDCO, “EDCO has built the first state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion facility in San Diego capable of producing renewable natural gas (from our food waste) that will meet the needs of the region.
The City of San Diego and Republic Services also manage waste from residential and business areas in the University area. Each waste management entity is now working with its customers to implement the plans they have developed since the initial adoption of SB 1383 in 2016.
Examples of food scraps are raw and cooked seafood, meat and poultry (including bones), cheese, dairy products, eggshells, fruits and vegetables, pasta, bread, prepared foods, leftovers, etc. Food-soiled paper items such as napkins, paper plates, pizza and donut boxes, tea bags and coffee filters should now be recycled in green bins. Consider using these paper products or a paper bag as a receptacle to collect your food waste. Then, close it and throw everything in your green bin.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (www.fao.org) recommends 15 steps we can all take to reduce food waste. For example, prepare homemade meals instead of opting for take-out or delivery. Buy and cook only what you need and use your leftovers. Start with smaller portions and add more if you’re still hungry, and share big meals when dining out. Store food wisely by following best storage practices using airtight containers and other appropriate reusable containers.
By doing your part, you can help achieve two important goals by 2025: a 75% reduction in statewide organic waste disposal from 2014 levels and a recovery of at least least 20% of edible food currently discarded by commercial food producers. Grocery stores, wholesalers and distributors (Tier 1) are now required to donate excess edible food to a relief agency such as Feeding San Diego and The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. Hotels, healthcare facilities and schools that serve food on site, large restaurants, large events and other venues (Tier 2) must have a donation plan in place by January 1, 2024.
Engage in the new organic material recycling program. Together we will waste less, save our landfills, share food with those who are hungry and help save our planet. Let’s make compliance with this important new initiative a College Region New Year’s Resolution!
Here are some websites for more information and support:
Recycling information and customer service: edcodisposal.com, republicservices.com, cityofsandiego.gov/environmental-services/collection
State of California: www.calrecycle.ca.gov/organics/slpc
City of San Diego: www.sandiego.gov/environmental-services/recycling/sb1383
Local food rescue agencies: www.feedingsandiego.org, sandiegofoodbank.org and many more
Environmental Innovation: www.solanacenter.org