California’s new mandatory composting law just took effect January 1, 2022. Yes, this is another mandatory climate change law, born out of California’s AB 32, the 2006 California Global Warming Solutions Act, which was born out of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s claims that “global warming pollutants have risen to levels unseen in the past 800,000 years.”
Senate Bill 1383, authored in 2016 by then-Senator Ricardo Lara, now California’s State Insurance Commissioner, mandates that your “organic material” goes into separate bins from garbage, plastic and glass recyclables.
Here is Lara’s reason for the bill: “According to the author, ‘California has been a proud and bold leader in pursuing environmental policies to reduce climate change and address the sources that cause it. Those policies have mostly focused on reducing emissions of CO2, the most significant long-term driver of climate change. This strategy represents the next step in those efforts, to establish a goal to reduce short lived climate pollutants that are among the most harmful emissions to both human health and global climate change.’”
This new law, passed in 2016 but not effective until 1/1/2022, is a holdover from Lara’s time in the Legislature and not part of the spate of new environmental laws recently signed in October by Gov. Gavin Newsom designed to restrict use of plastic utensils, change recycling labels, limit exports of plastic waste, and even boosting individual composting. Those new laws will tax plastic forks, spoons and knives, all the while demanding they be recycled.
SB 1383 requires the California Air Resources Board to approve and begin implementing the comprehensive strategy to reduce “Short-lived climate pollutants” in the state to achieve, from 2013 levels, a 40% reduction in methane, a 40% reduction in hydrofluorocarbon gases, and a 50% reduction in anthropogenic black carbon, by 2030.
It also “establishes a target of 50% reduction in the statewide disposal of organic waste from the 2014 level by 2020 and a 75% reduction by 2025, and requires CalRecycle and ARB to adopt regulations to achieve the organic waste reduction targets,” bill analysis said. It’s still not clear how composting will reduce methane since one of the goals of composting in large amounts is to capture the natural gas from it – are we just moving composting from one location to your home?
What is “organic material?”
Senate Bill 1383 mandates that Californians separate unused food, coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peels and other leftovers into bins they use for other “green” waste, including garden trimmings, lawn clippings and leaves.
Composting can be a benefit to you if you keep the compost and use to fertilize and improve the soil in your garden. And it is easy. However, government doesn’t need to tell us that, or mandate that local waste management companies issue us proper bins, and then pick up the kitchen garbage alongside our recyclables and other household garbage.
Most of the kitchen green waste can be easily composted and spread in the garden. You don’t need a victory garden to make use of your homegrown compost.
The EPA offers tips on composting:
- Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
- Add brown and green materials as they are collected, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded.
- Moisten dry materials as they are added.
- Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
- Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.
They also offer a list of what is compostable, and what is not.
We don’t need the state government to legislate this, largely because compostable kitchen and yard waste garbage is not the problem in landfills.
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