California’s new compost law completely changes how you can throw out food

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s likely you regularly throw your yard waste into your green trash bin without another thought — but what happens next?

In Bakersfield, every green trash bin in the city is dropped off at Mount Vernon Green Waste Recycling and Composting facility. When it it gets there, as supervisor Ruben Ramirez explained, the waste goes through three stages, one of which includes sitting for roughly 90 days and reaching 130 degrees through the decomposition process to turn into compost.

Ramirez said the waste that comes from residents’ trash bins is turned into compost for agriculture. And under a new California law, Mount Vernon, and potentially in return local farms, could be getting a lot more of it.

“Fruits, vegetables, cooked meat, bones, fish, soups and small amounts of grease, those need to be separated out and put into the green bin,” Bakersfield city Public Information Officer Joe Conroy said.

According to the World Wildlife Federation, decaying food waste represents about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The law aims to keep food waste out of landfills and turn it into compost or an energy source instead.

That’s because when food waste sits in landfills and decays, it emits a very strong greenhouse gas called methane. The goal of the new law is to reduce the amount of waste in landfills by 75% by 2025 from 2014 levels.

“We could face fines of up to $10,000 a day from the state,” Conroy said. “So that’s why we’re asking residents to follow along with this.”

Although fines won’t go into effect until 2024, residents and businesses could face a fee too — up to $500 for not complying.

Bakersfield believes Mount Vernon will be able to handle the extra waste coming from city residents putting food scraps in green trash bins. Kern County is considered building a new compost plant.

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