Everything from eggshells to coffee grounds should now be placed in brown and green bins to accommodate a new law regarding composting in California.

Most cities have trash, recycling, and green waste bins; now food waste is included in the green waste bins.

Senate Bill No. 1383 also requires 20% of edible food that would have been disposed of to instead be recovered for human consumption by 2025. Meaning food that used to be discarded because of appearance, size, or surplus will go to people in need rather than to a landfill.

Inedible food should be composted instead of thrown into the garbage because food releases methane and other greenhouse gases while decomposing. In fact, for every 100 pounds of discarded foods, 8.3 pounds of methane is emitted into the atmosphere.

Composting is the act of mixing decaying organic foods for fertilization purposes. This way discarded food can be used to grow more instead of rotting in landfills.

Tyler Deacy, the Interim Director of Sustainability at Fullerton College, had much to say on this topic.

Composting Q&A with the Interim Director of Sustainability

Girl and boy with compost. Photo credit: Isaac Figueroa


The Hornet: Do we compost at Fullerton College?

Deacy: Currently? The answer is no. However, our food service is taken care of by a vendor here called Sodexo. So we don’t have direct staff on-site that produces food waste. However, Sodexo uses our kitchen facilities and serves the campus kitchen, right. We’ll be working with them to set up that composting program moving forward.

The Hornet: How are California colleges complying with the law?

Deacy: Most colleges only have food waste and green waste. This law took effect in January. The goal was to get down to a 75% reduction in organic waste by 2025. 50% was the goal for 2020 back when this law was drafted, but obviously, that target isn’t enforceable via the current pandemic. There are fines that are scheduled, but they haven’t actually implemented them yet to give cities and businesses, and residents a grace period to set up their composting programs. We’re still in the setup phase.

The Hornet: How is Fullerton complying with the law?

Deacy: As part of the law, the city is supposed to be able to provide services for organic waste collection. The waste hauling companies that are here have to implement that into their systems as well. So our waste company is called W.A.R.E. and they have not yet set up that composting system. On our end, though, even if there was enforcement, our food waste wouldn’t be enforceable. Because due to the pandemic, Sodexo, actually hasn’t been producing any food waste at all. We haven’t reached a point yet with our food that would matter.

The Hornet: What could we be doing to better comply with the new law?

Deacy: There’s a program called green cycling or grasscycling which is a recycling program that some college lawn maintenance systems use where they will essentially leave grass trimmings in the lawn to compost and add fertilization to one, but we currently do not do that. Sodexo will probably be the ones to work with lawn maintenance, mainly to try to coordinate that pickup, based on what comes out of the dining hall.

A sustainability efforts section on the sustainability page for Fullerton College outlines what offering courses, resources, and access to shared governance systems like the Sustainability Committee and the Associated Student Committee on Environmental Sustainability.

Fullerton College's sustainability page outlines things the school offers like courses that incorporate sustainability, available resources, and access to shared governance programs on campus through the Sustainability Committee and the Associated Student Committee on Environmental Sustainability. Fullerton College has an Environmental Sustainability Club and an annual Earth Day Symposium. Photo credit: Fullerton College

The Hornet: When will we start seeing developments in regard to composting at Fullerton College?

Deacy: When a composting push happens, it will either go through me or it’ll go through Sodexo in conjunction with facilities depending on when that enforcement happens. I’m an interim director, meaning that I’m technically on a timer at the moment. We’re weighing the sustainability program as a whole and giving it a kind of two-year startup. My goal is to get us a sustainability plan moving forward, look at these types of things, and kind of institutionalize them.

More information can be found online about sustainability at Fullerton College and SB 1383 regulations. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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