Women scrapes food into chicken compost bin.

Compost Your Waste Or Else LA Residents Told With $500 Fines Introduced

21 Jan 2023

Residents and businesses in Los Angeles must now compost their “green” waste or face a $500 dollar fine.

The new program, which was initiated through Senate Bill 1383, involves a new curbside pickup program, which will ensure it is easier for people to separate organic and non-organic waste.

Residents registered at Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment can also request a free kitchen pail to keep their food waste in the kitchen.

These residents can either compost their food scraps in their own compost bins or empty the pail at the common green bins for the city to collect at the designated times.

According to LASAN’s website, residents serviced by recycLA will not receive the free pail directly from LASAN. However, they can request the pail through the recycLA service provider. The property manager should be the one requesting the provider.

OrganicsLA’s objective is to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. According to Los Angeles city officials, a large portion of waste that goes to landfills is organic.

“When organic waste is buried in landfills it can decompose anaerobically (without oxygen) and generate methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas that has negative effects on our environment,” officials explained.

According to the regulation, any resident who does not separate their organic waste properly may need to pay fines. Starting in 2024, Los Angeles will implement a $500 fine for residents who mix their organic waste with non-organic materials.

What can be composted?

Items that can go into organic waste bins include:

  • Vegetables, fruits
  • Meat, bone, shells, fish
  • Dairy products, eggshells
  • Bread, grains, pasta, beans, cereal
  • Coffee manure, coffee filters
  • Paper products contaminated with food (e.g., napkins and pizza boxes)
  • Yard waste

Los Angeles residents must avoid adding items like plastic-based products, glass, produce stickers and other products labeled “biodegradable” into the green waste bins.

The officials also provide guidelines for residents who opt to compost their own food remains. Residents are advised to line the kitchen pail with paper towels and add baking soda to the pail to limit unpleasant smells.

Residents also need to clean their kitchen pails regularly to maintain cleanliness. According to officials, the provided kitchen pails are dishwasher-friendly.

LASAN acting environmental engineer James Roska expressed his optimism that pulling out organic material from the landfill would slowly reduce the negative impact emissions from household waste.

Plastic bags also banned

Los Angeles’ new green initiative is another follow-up to a recent state-wide regulation that prevents supermarkets from using plastic produce bags. California is the first state in the U.S. to implement such a law.

The SB1046 was signed on September 30, 2022. However, the new regulation will only be effective starting January 1, 2025.

According to the bill, supermarkets must replace plastic produce bags with paper bags or other bags made of biodegradable materials. These “pre-checkout bags” are not only plastic bags typically seen near the produce aisle but also bags for unwrapped food items.

Supporters of the regulation said people usually used these produce bags for 15 minutes and there are more than 100 trillion bags used globally per year. Typically, they end up in compost waste streams and contaminate these facilities.

Californians Against Waste, the bill’s co-author, said that several studies have demonstrated that contamination in compost waste streams decreases when consumers have easy access to compostable bags.

California’s effort to reduce the use of plastics in its retail facilities started a few years back. In 2016, the government ruled that supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience shops could no longer use single-use checkout bags in their businesses.