The bill would require large producers of organic waste, including food and greenwaste, to subscribe to a recycling service for that material. In addition, it would end the current practice of incentivizing the use of organics as Alternative Daily Cover in the landfill.
According to a Calrecycle analysis, organics composting could create as many as 14,000 green jobs, and those jobs will stay in California because the material is not exported. Ton for ton, composting creates about four times more jobs than landfilling.
The methane captured in the anaerobic digestion process can be turned into renewable energy or low-carbon fuel. California is on the cusp of developing large facilities that rely on this technology, which is already in use around the world.
About 13 million tons of compostable organics are sent to the landfill each year; that’s one-third of the waste stream. Composting and recycling this material, which mainly consists of food waste, greenwaste and lumber, reduces the production of uncaptured methane, a Greenhouse Gas that is 23 times more powerful than CO2.
In addition, composting reduces landfill pollution and improves air quality by reducing naturally occurring VOC emissions by over 90 percent.
AB 341 sets a goal of 75% recycling by 2020. Calrecycle has stated that the 75% goal cannot be reached unless a significant amount of the organic materials now being landfilled are used in new composting/anaerobic digestion facilities. By requiring large producers of organics to recycle rather than landfill, AB 323 will make a significant contribution toward meeting that goal.
California isn’t the only place where organics recycling is in focus. At a recent conference, industry experts from around the country discussed the need to include organics collection programs as a way to meet recycling and diversion goals. There are currently more than 214 food waste collection programs in the country.
Now that AB 323 has passed out of policy committee, it moves on to fiscal committee.
Find out more about the environmental benefits of composting.