State Organics Law SB 1383

SB 1383, a statewide law passed in 2016, aims to reduce the tonnage of organic waste that is landfilled by 75% by 2025 (based on 2014 levels). SB 1383 declares that “Short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, fluorinated gases, and methane, are powerful climate forcers that have a dramatic and detrimental effect on air quality, public health, and climate change.  These pollutants create a warming influence on the climate that is many times more potent than that of carbon dioxide. Short-lived climate pollutants that are toxic air contaminants also are a significant environmental risk factor for premature death. Reducing emissions of these pollutants can have an immediate beneficial impact on climate change and on public health.”

Many people believe that throwing food scraps and paper products into a landfill is harmless because they biodegrade. However, most people are surprised to learn that when these materials break down in a landfill, they become powerful contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Compostable materials such as food waste and paper decompose anaerobically (without oxygen) in a landfill, producing methane (CH4)—one of the most potent greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

The intent of this organics diversion goal is to reduce these emissions in light of global climate change. 

Did you know that 71% of all waste landfilled by San Mateo County is organic material (organic in this case meaning coming from recently living organisms like plants or animals). Reducing organic waste by 75% from the 2014 base year would require diversion of about 292,000 tons per year. While this goal may seem big, each one of us has the power to help reach this goal.

Here are some steps on how you can help create a greener future: 

  1. Understand what items go in which cart. You can do this by (a) testing your knowledge with the interactive cart game, (b) visit to ask about items you may have a question about and (c) ask our expert with your questions. By understanding which items go into each cart, you help reduce the items that don’t belong, or “contaminate,” those carts.
  2. Reduce food waste. According to Stop Food Waste, 43% of food waste in the United States comes from households. While not all food waste is preventable, understanding the steps that can be done to reduce food waste not only helps the environment, it can help reduce the amount of money spent on food too! To get more helpful tips for preventing food waste, visit
  3. Compost: Every meal, every day. Make composting a part of your daily routine and take the compost challenge by pledging to compost every meal, every day for the next 30 days.
  4. Share your compost story. Inspire friends, family and the community by sharing your story and the reasons that matter most to you!  Click here to share your story.

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