Written by Dawn DeVroom, IDR Environmental Services
If your California business generates waste (what business doesn’t?), you now have a new law to prepare for in your waste management process.
Senate Bill 1383, which took effect Jan. 1, 2022, requires that businesses and residents separate organic materials from their trash. Passed in 2016 as a measure that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, the bill adds a new layer of complexity for managing waste in the thousands of businesses across the state.
While organic waste like food scraps are the first to come to mind, there are several other types of materials businesses must begin separating from trash and recycling under this law. These materials include:
- Landscape waste
- Paper products
- Organic textiles
The law also changes how certain types of businesses sort trash. Restaurants, hospitals and supermarkets must send at least 20% of its excess edible food to food banks.
It’s a lot to digest for business as well as the communities that must put processes in place to facilitiate this change. That’s why the law gives local and county jurisdictions until 2024 to implement organic collection services for businesses and residences, similar to how trash and recycling are collected now.
Important note: As a business, it’s important to start planning for this new change in waste laws now. Any non-hazardous waste you currently generate (cardboard, food scraps, depleted aerosol cans, plastic packaging, etc.), will continue to be picked up by your local waste management company you contract with currently.
Any materials that fall under this new organic waste law will also probably be handled by your local trash pick-up service. However, you will need to update your internal waste management protocols to include this new waste stream.
If you are uncertain whether your waste is non-hazardous or hazardous, or need assistance updating your internal waste management protocols if you produce multiple waste streams, contact a licensed hazardous disposal company for help.
Why Non Hazardous Waste Disposal Is Important
Although many businesses in various industries rely on transporters to help them legally dispose of their hazardous waste, proper non-hazardous waste disposal is also important.
Many states and local communities have their own waste disposal laws that cover a variety of types of waste, from hazardous to non-hazardous. These laws are put into place to protect the public. After all, just because a type of waste isn’t considered “hazardous” according to state and federal standards does not mean it does not pose some level of risk to the environment and community at large.
While items like paper, food scraps and landscape waste like leaves usually aren’t deemed hazardous, they can still pose a long-term threat to the environment by contributing to landfills. When trash disposed in landfills begins to decompose, the bacteria in the waste can produce methane gas that is released into the atmosphere.
Even when waste disposal is completed according to the law, this process can contribute to a company’s carbon footprint and hurt the company’s efforts to become more sustainable.
New laws such as Senate Bill 1383 also have enormous legal ramifications for businesses. Not following any waste management law can lead to costly mistakes and a public relations nightmare.
News stories of hazardous waste law violators are endless, from Albertsons to CarMax and Walmart. They also have one thing in common … millions of dollars in fines. Now, with this new law that focuses on organic waste, companies must focus on ensuring another waste stream is properly disposed of or face many of the same ramifications.
How A Waste Disposal Company Can Help
One of the first actions a company should take with the implementation of this new law is to evaluate its current waste streams and how this new legislation impacts them. A certified waste disposal company that offers a walk-through program can help.
The purpose of a walk-through program is to evaluate your waste procedures. This allows you to catch potential mistakes before they turn into costly fines.
The best waste disposal companies will have extensive knowledge of new legislature, and most importantly, how these new laws impact your specific business. This knowledge helps you develop a practical and reliable plan that puts your company in a position to update its waste management practices proactively rather than reactively.
Working with a certified waste disposal company offers other benefits as well, including:
- Offering the ability to identify waste streams through profiling and testing
- Transporting your waste to the proper recycling and disposal sites since it’s likely new sites will be developed to accept organic waste
- Offering evidence that your waste has been properly disposed of
- Providing you with any other documentation required of your waste, such as manifests
As state and federal governments continue to develop new waste laws or to refine current waste laws, it’s important to put your business in a position where it can more easily adapt to any changes.
Working with a hazardous waste disposal company and your local trash pick up service will ensure you are meeting both federal, state and local municipality laws.