Reducing California’s Landfill Methane Emissions: SB 1383 Implementation

Food waste collection after cooking

Report #274, June 2023

OVERVIEW

California is falling short in the fight against harmful landfill emissions, and should adjust its approach to meaningfully respond to a major contributor to climate change, the Little Hoover Commission urged in a new report.

By enacting SB 1383 in 2016, the state aimed to reduce the amount of organic material deposited into landfills by 50 percent below 2014 levels by 2020, and by 75 percent by 2025. It also required the state to recover and redistribute at least 20 percent of edible food that would otherwise be thrown away. Successfully completing these targets would considerably reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and improve the state’s air, water, and soil quality, as well as Californians’ health, the Commission concludes in the new report. Unfortunately, California missed its 2020 goal and is poised to miss the 2025 target as well.

“The Commission applauds the state’s ambitious efforts to improve organic waste disposal processes,” said Chair Pedro Nava. “However, we are still failing to make meaningful progress towards our overall goal. Taking a moment to reassess and refresh how this critical program is being implemented will benefit us all.”

In its new report, Reducing California’s Landfill Methane Emissions: SB 1383 Implementation, the Little Hoover Commission highlights how adjustments in the state’s implementation of SB 1383 would improve organic waste disposal and allow for a more efficient statewide response to climate change.

Successful implementation of the bill will require changes in law and regulation and additional funding – all lengthy processes. Californians must also buy in to the legislation and its goals. Given these factors, the Commission calls on the Legislature to enact a temporary pause to the implementation of SB 1383.  A pause in implementation would allow time for necessary changes to infrastructure, clarification of the shared responsibility between state agencies and local government, the development of a realistic financing plan, and community education.

“To effectively implement SB 1383, the state must re-evaluate its strategy to avoid unnecessary costs associated with confusion regarding compliance and to ensure Californians can successfully and timely perform the required steps under the law,” said Vice Chair Sean Varner. “There would be considerable benefit to pausing the program to ensure alignment with all affected parties.”

The Commission’s report offers twelve targeted recommendations that would further the state’s efforts in the fight to curb landfill methane emissions. These recommendations can be found in detail at https://bit.ly/3J0TKo2.

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