A box of food scraps that will be composted sits at the Norcal Waste Systems transfer station in San Francisco on April 21, 2009. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A bill that could fine Californians for not recycling food waste took effect on Jan. 1.
A state Senate bill that passed in the 2021-22 legislative season required all local governments to provide organic waste collection services to residents beginning in 2022, according to a state government webpage
The bill was passed to help the state reach its goal of having 75 percent of organic waste recycled by 2025.
The website defines “organic waste” primarily as “food, green material, landscape and pruning waste,” but includes “organic textiles and carpets, lumber, wood, paper products, printing and writing paper, manure, biosolids, digestate, and sludges.”
The bill also required local governments to fine residents who don’t recycle organic waste starting Jan. 1, 2024.
California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, also known as CalRecycle, said on its website that the correct way to dispose of food waste varies for residents depending on their local government’s practices.
A cook at a restaurant drops apple skins into a food scrap recycling container in San Francisco on April 21, 2009. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
In most regions, residents can sort organic waste into the appropriate containers provided by their city or county. Some jurisdictions will also allow residents to self-haul their food waste to composting facilities or programs.
In the city of Rancho Cordova, residents not complying with the state’s food-waste recycling law will receive a notice of violation and a 30-day opportunity to correct, in addition to education, according to local news outlet KRCA News.
However, some cities—including Sacramento and Stockton—are choosing to waive citations for their residents, according to KRCA.
In July 2022, Sacramento launched a recycling program that gives residents free organic waste bins to keep on their kitchen counters.
The city installed cameras on its waste collection trucks in September, and since then has reported a 14 percent increase in organic recycling and a 10 percent reduction of landfill waste, according to KRCA News.
In Stockton, officials said they are focused on educating residents on proper food-waste recycling but will not be issuing fines for improper disposal. However, businesses and multi-family residences will face contamination and overfill charges when necessary.
In Roseville, waste and recyclables are sorted by the city, so residents will toss all waste into one singular bin, according to officials.