Davis: Banana peels, chicken bones and leftover veggies won’t have a place in California trashcans under the nation’s largest mandatory residential food waste recycling programme that’s set to take effect in January.
The effort is designed to keep landfills in the most populous US State clear of food waste that damages the atmosphere as it decays. When food scraps and other organic materials break down they emit methane, a greenhouse gas more potent and damaging in the short-term than carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
California plans to start converting residents’ food waste into compost or energy, becoming the second State in the US to do so after Vermont launched a similar programme last year.
Most people in California will be required to toss excess food into green waste bins rather than the trash. Municipalities will then turn the food waste into compost or use it to create biogas, an energy source that is similar to natural gas.
Vermont, home to 6,25,000 people compared to California’s nearly 40 million, is the only other State that bans residents from throwing their food waste in the trash. Under a law that took effect in July 2020, residents can compost the waste in their yards, opt for curbside pick up or drop it at waste stations. Cities like Seattle and San Francisco have similar programmes.
Joy Klineberg, a mother of three, puts coffee grounds, fruit rinds and cooking scraps into a metal bin labeled “compost” on her countertop. When preparing dinners, she empties excess food from the cutting board into the bin. Every few days, she dumps the contents into her green waste bin outside that is picked up and sent to a county facility. “All you’re changing is where you’re throwing things, it’s just another bin,” she said.