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Organic Waste Recycling Has Improved in California!

As of January 2022, Californians must divert all organic waste from the landfill, including food scraps, yard waste, soiled paper products, and other organics. Organic waste buried in landfills takes up valuable landfill space and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change. How you participate in organic waste recycling depends on where you live! Find your location in the list below to learn what goes in your green container, and what other programs may apply to you.

Organics Recycling

If you live or work in the cities of Buellton, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Solvang, or the unincorporated areas of the Cuyama Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and South Coast:

Residents

  • Keep food scraps and food-soiled paper in the trash. Use your green container for yard waste only.

Businesses

Can you explain why?

For residents and businesses in these areas, is no change in how you need to manage your waste. The waste from this area goes to the County's ReSource Center, which is a state-of-the-art facility that recovers organic waste from the trash stream. Organics are then transformed into compost and clean energy on-site. You can be rest assured knowing that if you live or work in these areas, the food scraps and food-soiled paper going in your trash are being recovered and composted at the ReSource Center.

As a reminder for folks who live or work in these areas, your green container should only contain yard waste like grass clippings, leaves, and branches. The contents of your green container are directly ground and chipped to produce mulch available for community use. Please do not mix food scraps with your yard waste if you live in these areas, as it interferes with the mulching process.

While organics are already being recovered directly from the trash stream and recycled into compost in these areas, large food waste generators such as restaurants, grocery stores, and schools should participate in their local jurisdiction’s food scraps collection program. This helps create higher quality compost. Additionally, these programs are often priced below standard trash service, and could save your business money.

Lastly, if you already compost your organic waste at home, please don’t stop! It’s best to compost as locally as you can, plus you’ll create a great soil amendment to use in your garden or landscaping.

If you live or work in the unincorporated Lompoc Valley or Santa Maria Valley, including Los Alamos, Vandenburg Village, and Orcutt:

Residents

Businesses

  • If you don’t already have a green waste container, you now are required to get one unless a site visit from County staff determines you are exempt.

Can you explain why?

Starting July 1, 2022, residents and businesses must start adding food scraps, food-soiled paper, and wet paper products into the green container along with yard waste. Green containers these areas now accept more types of organic waste, including but not limited to yard waste, coffee filters, used napkins, greasy pizza boxes, meats, bones, fruit or vegetable scraps, or plate waste. Everything in your green container is now composted at a local facility and then used in local agriculture.

Per state law, almost all businesses in these areas are now required to have organic waste service. Please call Waste Management at (805) 922-2121 to subscribe to organic waste service if you don’t already have a green container. If you only produce yard waste or food waste, no problem; simply use your green container to capture the type of organic waste you produce. If you feel your business does not produce enough organic waste to need a green container, you can contact County staff to be evaluated for a waiver. Please visit this page to request a site visit.

Santa Barbara County will provide FREE kitchen pails to all unincorporated area residents. Pails are an easy way to collect organic waste at home without needing to run to the green container after every meal. Stay tuned for free kitchen collection pails anticipated to be available this fall to make collecting organics easier! Additionally, for Waste Management residential customers in these areas, green container service is now weekly alongside trash service. Blue recycling containers will continue to be serviced every other week.

Even with this expanded organic waste program, it is always encouraged to compost where you live! Residents can also check out our self-hauling section below for information on organic waste drop-off locations.

If you live or work in the cities of Carpinteria, Guadalupe, Lompoc, or Santa Maria:

Your jurisdiction has its own organics recycling program. Please visit your city’s website for specific details on how you can properly participate in organics recycling.

Organics Recycling Contacts:
Mackie Forgey and Tori Kampmann

Dive Deeper into SB 1383

SB 1383 is a California law that went into effect January 1st, 2022, and is aimed at reducing methane emissions through the increased recycling of organic waste. The regulations require a 50% reduction statewide in the disposal of organic waste by 2020 and a 75% reduction by 2025. Additionally, SB 1383 mandates that 20% of currently disposed edible food be recovered for human consumption by 2025.

There are two key pieces to new law:

Check out CalRecycle’s SB 1383 video here:

Business that are required to donate food are:

Tier 1
(Starting January 1, 2022)

  • Supermarkets
  • Grocery Stores with Facilities ≥ 10,000 sq. ft.
  • Food Service Providers
  • Food Distributors
  • Wholesale Food Vendors

Tier 2
(Starting January 1, 2024)

  • Restaurants with Facilities ≥ 5,000 sq. ft. or 250+ seats
  • Hotels with an On-Site Food Facility and 200+ Rooms
  • Health Facilities with an On-Site Food Facility and 100+ Beds
  • Large Venues and Events
  • State Agency Cafeterias with Facilities ≥ 5,000 sq. ft. or 250+ seats
  • Local Education Agency with an On-Site Food Facility
  • Non-Local Entities

Contact the County today to obtain information on edible food donation programs for your business!

Food Recovery Contacts:
Kaitlyn Haberlin and Mackie Forgey

Self-Hauling

SB 1383 requires commercial organic waste generators, including landscapers, to maintain certain records if they self-haul their organic waste. You can view the self-hauler recordkeeping form in English or in Spanish.

Residents who self-haul their waste must also recycle their organics, but they are not required to maintain records.

Residents and commercial food scraps generators have the option to drop off their organics at the following locations:

Click here for a list of sites that accept green waste from businesses and residents. Please call ahead for hours of operation and applicable fees.

If you have any questions about the County’s organic waste recycling programs, please contact us or call (805) 882-3618.

Click here to report an alleged SB 1383 violation.

Backyard Composting

It’s still best to compost your organic waste at home! Home composting reduces emissions from waste hauling heavy organics and creates a great soil amendment to use in your garden.  Composting at home is both fun and easy to do, and doesn’t require large investments of time, money, or effort to be successful. We offer resources to get you started, including discounted composting bins, workshops, and a free booklet to help get you started.