New waste regulations coming down the line

By Zoë Strickland, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, March 22, 2021


SB1383 will sharply curtail the amount of organic matter being disposed of in landfills.

Regulations from SB 1383 will become effective on Jan. 1, 2022

A state law that was adopted in 2016 is going into effect at the beginning of next year, adding a new layer of regulations and state enforcement of those regulations to cities across California. SB 1383 is meant to reduce short-lived climate pollutants by requiring jurisdictions to adopt requirements surrounding edible food recovery and the reduction of organic material disposal.

Specifically, collectively California must reduce organic material disposal by 75% and increase edible food recovery by 20% in 2025. Local jurisdictions must also provide organic material collection to all residents and businesses; establish a food recovery program to recover edible food from the landfill; conduct outreach and education to food generators, haulers, facilities, departments and anyone affected by the new regulations; estimate organic material processing and food recovery capacity available to the city; procure organic waste products like compost, mulch and renewable natural gas; adopt an enforcement ordinance for SB 1383 by Jan. 1, 2022; and maintain records of the city’s compliance to the bill.

Recovering edible food “from the landfill,” means that edible food is recovered from hotels, grocery stores and other similar sources of generation before it gets sent to the landfill and sent to places like food banks.

Though the regulations for reduction of material disposal and an increase in food recovery don’t take effect until 2025, local governments are required to begin planning now in order to hit the two regulations.

The bill is geared toward reducing methane in the environment, as well as cutting down on food waste. According to Zero Waste Sonoma, California disposed of approximately 27 million tons of organic waste in 2017.

“The goals are excellent — reduce the methane emissions from organic materials by reducing organics that are in our landfill and by encouraging increased edible food recovery — that all sounds great, but there’s a lot that has to happen for it to work,” said Sebastopol Councilmember Diana Rich, introducing Zero Waste Sonoma Executive Director Leslie Lukacs at the council’s March 16 meeting.

Lukacs has been making the rounds, presenting to local city and town councils throughout Sonoma County about the bill over the past few months. Cloverdale and Sebastopol and Windsor have both received presentations from Zero Waste Sonoma about the bill, Healdsburg has yet to have one on its agenda.

What is Zero Waste Sonoma doing to help?

According to Lukacs, Zero Waste Sonoma is taking the lead on some jurisdictional responsibilities required in SB 1383, like conducting education and outreach to the community, planning for the capacity to recycle organic waste and food recovery and monitoring for compliance and enforcement, in partnership with Recology. She said that Zero Waste Sonoma has started drafting a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for jurisdictions regarding the scope of what Zero Waste Sonoma will be taking on to help with the requirements set by the bill.

Per Lukacs’ presentation to the council, the MOU lists the responsibilities that they’ll be taking on as:

● education and outreach

● procurement

● reporting and record keeping

● organic waste processing capacity

● diversion planning and model tools

The financial impacts of the bill on each jurisdiction ranges depending on the city. For Sebastopol, the procurement of compost or mulch will range from $21,000 to $27,000 annually. During Lukacs’ presentation in Cloverdale, she said that the compost or mulch will cost the city $20,000 to $30,000. Windsor, being the third largest jurisdiction in the county, is expected to take on a cost of $72,000 to $95,000 per year.

Lukacs said that there’s an element within the regulation that allows a third-party that may need it to purchase the compost.

“The reason why the state wanted jurisdictions to purchase the compost was to create markets, but we’re in a county where we don’t need markets,” she said. “We’re in an agricultural county and we don’t have enough compost for all of our ag land … we are looking at ways that we can utilize this component within the regulations where we might be able to go around having the jurisdictions actually purchase it.”

Lukacs said that a possible work-around is still up in the air, but that Zero Waste Sonoma is trying to work with CalRecycle on it.

“That the city may not need all that compost, but the ag community does — that’s another component of the regs that we’re still working on,” she said.

Lukacs said that there will also likely be an increase to Recology’s franchise fee, as well as the cost associated with city staff time that’s spent on tending to the regulations.

Any increases in Recology rates will be worked out between Recology and the city, and will likely come forward later on in the process, Lukacs said.

When it comes to how inspections for compliance will work, Lukacs said that Zero Waste Sonoma is in the process of working with the county to partner with its already existing local enforcement agencies who go out for annual health inspections.

“When they find a business who’s not in compliance, our tactic is more technical assistance that’s provided by the agency,” Lukacs said when asked about how inspection and enforcement might work. “Our goal is really to not get to the point of enforcement where the city will actually have to ticket a business … we really feel that we can get to this compliance level through education outreach but if we can’t in that last final piece, that would go to the jurisdiction.”

This bill differs from previous ones form the state because it latches on to concrete actions taken rather than the city meeting specific goals.

“The way that 1383 is somewhat different from previous state bills in that, as long as a jurisdiction is following certain actions — like, for example, passing the enforcement ordinance, having organics collection provided to all of your residents and businesses — as long as you do certain actions that are required in the regulations, you will be in compliance,” said Xinci Tan, organics program manager for Zero Waste Sonoma.

This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at