Grocery Stores and Restaurants Taking a Bite Out of Climate Change and Food Waste
Posted in Legal Bites
Grocery Stores and Restaurants Taking a Bite Out of Climate Change and Food Waste

Save the planet and feed the children? No, these are not the aspirations of a beauty contestant but the objective of legislation that was passed in the Golden State.  In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1383. The law is designed to fight climate change by aiming to reduce methane gas emissions produced by organic waste in landfills by 75 percent by 2025.  The law provides regulation changes necessary to reduce food waste by implementing programs to recover food that would otherwise be thrown away and getting it to organizations that help fight hunger.  The target aims to recover at least 20 percent of surplus edible food for human consumption.

Grocery stores, food distributors and wholesale vendors can help meet this goal by donating food that would otherwise be wasted to food rescue organizations. SB 1383 will make a big difference for Californians in need and to food rescue organizations such as food banks and soup kitchens. However, those food rescue organizations will need more funding to be able to scale up their programs, from collecting the increased volume of food to expanding their safe storage facilities and increasing personnel to aid in distribution.  

The law will go into effect on January 1, 2022, and affected businesses should consider planning now to meet the new state requirements.  Affected businesses will be required to participate in edible food recovery activities such as collecting edible food, purchasing any needed equipment, and implementing food donation systems.  Rate increases for waste collection services should also be anticipated.  Affected businesses will also be subject to increased record keeping requirements including keeping lists of each food recovery services that collects or receives its edible food, the types of food collected and the frequency of the collections.

The costs for each affected business will vary significantly and will depend on the amount of edible food waste that is currently being disposed, and the ability of the business to reduce the amount of organic waste.  The direct costs to the average affected business is estimated to be about $662 annually. However, it is likely that these costs will be passed through to consumers via price increases of goods and services. Enforcement programs will be implemented in 2022 and will include the ability to assess penalties for non-compliance, however penalties for non-compliance will not be imposed by jurisdictions until 2024.

To help ensure no less than 20 percent of edible food that is currently being disposed gets redirected away from landfills to Californians in need, qualifying restaurants, schools, hotels and cafeterias will also be required to donate excess food beginning January 1, 2024.

California cities and counties recently had the opportunity to provide feedback on the SB 1383 draft regulations. The formal comments period ran from April 20, 2020 to May 20, 2020 and was the final chance for cities to propose changes before the final regulations are put into effect by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, the government agency responsible for implementing final regulations.  

The current coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the stark reality of food insecurity in certain populations in California, and demand at food rescue organizations has skyrocketed. 

This landmark legislation will not only make a huge impact on reducing harmful climate super pollutants like methane gas but has the added bonus of providing good food to those in need. Cities, counties, and commercial food generators can help by proactively implementing local programs now especially given the current need.

Tags: SB 1383

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