With the rising interest in reducing plastic waste, the United States has many States with composting or recycling programs. But what has Sacramento just implemented?
As of June 2022, all food scraps and organic materials must go into green waste bins as per State Law SB 1383. This law aims to reduce short-lived climate pollutants from the landfills and will be mandated to all residents.
What Is Composting?
Essentially, composting is when compostable materials break down into natural matter using the oxygen, air, water in the environment surrounding them either through an industrial composter, home composter or worm farm.
Compostable materials are anything made from renewable materials or renewable materials or organic matter themselves. Compostable plastics are known as the next generation of plastics and provide a great alternative to traditional plastics.
Materials that make up compostable plastics include corn, soy protein, potato, tapioca and cellulose whose starch is extracted to create the ‘bioplastic’. These plastics can also break down in an industrial composting facility, home composter or worm farm.
They won’t contribute to landfill and will not negatively impact the environment if disposed of correctly.
What Can Be Composted?
Many people are very surprised when they discover how many materials can actually be composted! They are simple, organic materials such as food scraps, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetables or egg shells. You can also dispose of your grass clippings and shredded newspaper!
This means less waste across the board at home. However, food such as meat, fish or dairy isn’t suitable for a home composter as animals can be attracted (such as mice or rats) to the composter. This means that when you mow the lawn, drink your morning coffee or tea, read your newspaper or clear your garden, many of these items can also be disposed of in your worm farm or home composter.
Some household or garden waste you can dispose of in your home composter include:
- Coffee grounds
- Tea leaves or tea bags
- Food waste such as vegetables or fruit scraps (except in a worm farm – nothing acidic!)
- Leftover bread, pasta or cereals
- Dry cat or dog food
- Compostable plastics
- Twigs, leaves or grass clippings
- Shredded newspaper or printer paper (no colored dye).
What Is The Goal Of California’s Composting Law?
The law was introduced by former California Governor, Jerry Brown in 2016 with the aim to reduce organic waste disposal by at least 75% by 2025. The State of Sacramento previously collected yard waste from customers in green waste and this was turned into landscape cover.
Adding in food scraps and other compostable materials will turn this into nutrient-dense fertilizer that can be used for local agriculture projects. Residents will have to use green waste containers for composting and the City will provide them one if needed.
Residents can add branches, leaves, grass, food-soiled materials, scraps, leftover food like bread, brains, pasta etc into the bins. Non-organic composting materials can continue to be placed into trash or recycling.
What Plastic Used For Food Waste Can Be Composted?
In theory, any compostable plastics used in wrapping food or takeaway items can be composted. The benefits of composting such plastic are mostly for the environment in terms of environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and the degradation to completely natural matter without leaving behind toxic chemicals.
Some of the benefits include:
- Reduces contributions to landfill.
- Does not leach or leave behind toxic chemicals.
- Less greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing.
- Lower water and energy consumption during manufacturing.
- Safe for humans, animals, wildlife and the environment.
- Provide great fertilizer when composted correctly.
What all this means, is that if you are willing to dispose of your compostable plastics in a home composter, industrial composting facility or a worm farm, then compostable plastic provides a great option for you.