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SB 1383: Short-lived Climate Pollutants

In 2016, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1383 into California law, establishing statewide greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. This bill expands upon the goals of AB 341: Mandatory Commercial Recycling and AB 1826: Mandatory Commercial Organics. SB 1383 is unique in that it will require donation of edible food to feed people in addition to composting organic materials, and unlike previous bills, there are significant penalties for non-compliance.

Greenhouse gases and climate change

Methane and carbon dioxide are called greenhouse gases because they turn the Earth's atmosphere into a greenhouse by trapping heat from the sun. Each of these gases can stay in the atmosphere for 10-1000 years. Although that may seem like a long time, compared to the age of the Earth, these gases are short-lived.

When organic materials like food go into a landfill, the lack of oxygen during decomposition causes the production of methane. By diverting organics from the landfill, we can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change.

NPS greenhouse gas effect

Left - Naturally occurring greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O)—normally trap some of the sun’s heat, keeping the planet from freezing. Right - Human activities, such as the disposal of organic material in the landfill, are increasing greenhouse gas levels, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect. The result is an unprecedented rate of climate change. Will Elder, National Park Service

Who's affected?

All commercial entities must comply with the requirements in SB 1383. Some examples of commercial entities are:

  • For-profit and non-profit organizations (e.g., restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, farms, hospitals, landscapers)
  • Government offices and agencies
  • Private and public schools
  • Multifamily residential dwellings

Examples of organics

CalRecycle, the state authority on waste management and recycling, defines organics, organic matter, or organic materials as "Material that comes from organisms that were once alive, or derived from, or produced through the biological activity of a living thing."

  • Food scraps (e.g., fruit, vegetables, meat, bones, shells, dairy)
  • Food-soiled paper (e.g. paper towels, napkins, delivery pizza boxes)
  • Landscaping or yard debris (e.g., leaves, grass clippings, branches)
  • Wood and lumber

Find out more information on what can and cannot be composted here.

Examples of recyclables

  • Steel and aluminum cans
  • Plastic containers and bottles (rigid only)
  • Paper and cardboard (no food or grease)
  • Cartons

Find out more information on what can and cannot be recycled here.

Please remember to keep recyclables loose; do not bag them, because plastic bags tangle up and stop the sorting machines. All recycling should be as clean and dry as possible without wasting too much water. Residual food causes mold to grow, greatly decreasing the value of recyclables.

How to get in compliance

Commercial entities must do all of the following unless otherwise stated.

  • Make arrangements to transport collected organic materials to a compost facility with one of the following:
  • Make arrangements to transport collected recyclables to a facility that will recycle and recover those materials through one of the following:
  • Provide indoor containers for collecting recyclables and organic materials to employees, contractors, tenants, and customers.
    • Containers for recycling and organics must be present in all areas where garbage containers are also provided, except restrooms.
    • The body or lid of the containers for recycling must be colored blue, and for organics, must be green.
    • The containers for recycling and organics must each be labeled appropriately with images of what is accepted.

  • Annually provide education regarding what can and cannot be recycled/composted to employees, contractors, tenants, and customers.
    • New tenants must receive this information before or within 14 days of moving in.
    • The organization must periodically inspect recycling and organics containers for contamination. If there is contamination at any time, the organization is responsible for providing education so that containers are used correctly.

Note #1: Multifamily residential buildings are not required to provide indoor collection containers for their tenants.
Note #2: If an organization does not generate any recyclables or organics, they do not have to provide indoor containers for recycling or organics at all areas where there is a garbage container.

Reference: SB 1383 regulations, Article 3, Section 18984.8 - 18984.10

Apply for a Waiver

Commercial entities may not need to comply with some or all of the requirements above if they apply for a waiver using one of the following reasons. Please note that documentation or evidence must be provided.

  • De Minimis: minimal organic material is generated.
    • If an entity produces more than two (2) cubic yards of total waste per week, minimal organic material means less than 20 gallons.
    • If an entity produces less than two (2) cubic yards of total waste per week, minimal organic material means less than 10 gallons.

  • Physical Space: there is not adequate space to fit all three containers (garbage, recycling, and organics) on site.

  • Collection Frequency: garbage or recycling is picked up every other week.

Reference: SB 1383 regulations, Article 3, Section 18984.11