Food scraps and eggshells being placed in a plastic composting bin

Composting: Easy as 1-2-3!

Miriam Aczel

Organic materials like food scraps and waste from our yards make up about 50 percent of California’s landfills where they release methane, a greenhouse gas that is estimated to be 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide! To manage methane emissions, California is enacting legislation that requires cities and counties to reduce their organic waste. 

On January 1, 2022, California’s Senate Bill 1383 went into effect. The goal of the bill is to reduce the amount of organic waste—such as banana peels, carrot peelings, and coffee grounds—in the trash and landfills, and capture these organics in green waste bins instead. Businesses must recover and donate edible foods, and gather organic waste to be collected for composting. By 2025, the law aims to reduce the disposal of organics by 75 percent statewide.

What is composting?

Composting is an easy, low-cost way to recycle organic matter like food and plant material into fertilizer. The idea behind this process is to “speed up” the natural decomposition of organic waste by creating an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other “helpers” like worms to do their work. 

Composting creates soil rich in nutrients, reducing the need to add chemical fertilizers—and by keeping these materials from landfills, we can reduce methane emissions and lower our carbon footprint. Composting also enhances soil’s ability to retain moisture, which decreases runoff and improves resilience to drought.

How to compost

1. Separate

Whenever you cook or clean out the fridge, simply set aside any food scraps and place them in the composting container. You can also scrape leftover food from your dishes.

2. Collect your food scraps

You can use any kind of reusable plastic tub or kitchen bin to collect food waste. A compostable container such as a paper bag or box also works, but a reusable plastic container may prevent leaking and be better for long-term collection. 

You can also collect coffee grounds, tea leaves, and paper products including coffee cups and filters, napkins, paper towels, and paper plates. If you’re worried about potential spills or smell from your food waste, either wrap the scraps in newspaper before placing them in your compost or freeze the scraps. 

3. Dispose

If you have room on your property, you can start your own compost pile! Otherwise, you can dispose of any food scraps, “food-soiled” paper, and yard waste into the city’s green compost bin.

By working together, we can reduce food waste and create nutrient-rich compost for local homes, gardens, farms, and more!

Cover image credit: The Spruce / Cori Sears

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