HomePublicationBurbankCity Moves Toward Organic Waste Recycling

City Moves Toward Organic Waste Recycling

First published in the March 12 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Burbank residents and businesses will likely soon have to begin separating their organics from other waste to comply with a state law intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Burbank City Council voted last week to introduce an ordinance updating the municipal code in accordance with California Senate Bill 1383. If the council approves the ordinance, which it is scheduled to do on March 15, the city would later require community members to sort their organic waste into a green waste bin.

Grocery stores, restaurants and other large “commercial food generators” would be required to donate edible food. Some businesses could receive waivers if they generate a very low amount of organic waste or do not have enough space for the waste container.

Implementation would begin on July 1, according to city spokeswoman Simone McFarland, assuming the council approves the ordinance. But enforcement of the new rules for community members wouldn’t start until 2024, according to a city staff report, and residents and businesses would receive several warnings before any fines.

“We won’t be going in and inspecting people’s trash cans in a way where we’re ripping open bags and figuring out what you do and don’t have in it,” Burbank recycling coordinator Amber Duran told council members during their March 1 meeting. “[But] we definitely are flipping the lids up and taking a peek inside, just looking for obvious signs of contamination.”

Residents who have a green waste bin, she added, are already in compliance — they would just need to ensure their organic waste makes it into the containers.

Passed in 2016, SB 1383 requires cities and counties to reduce the amount of organic waste — such as food, paper products, grease and green material — sent to landfills. The law had originally set a compliance deadline at the beginning of 2022, but a more recent bill effectively extended it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city of Burbank expects its organics collection program to be fully implemented by the beginning of next year.

SB 1383 aims to reduce statewide organic waste disposal to a quarter of 2014 levels by 2025. Organic waste in landfills emit 20% of the state’s methane, the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery has said. California generates between 20 and 23 million tons of organic waste every year, Duran explained, a sum that represents two-thirds of the state’s waste stream.

Methane has a global warming potential 84 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe, according to a study by Washington State University, and 28 to 34 times greater than the same over a 100-year timeframe.

Diverted organic waste goes to composting sites, which reduce methane emissions, or is turned into biofuel.

“It’s … important that education is instrumental in the success of our programs,” Duran said. “If we don’t get buy-in from our residents and from our businesses, we will not have a successful program.”

Most food waste comes from commercial entities, she added, rather than individual residents. But since the California mandate is largely unfunded — though Burbank is poised to receive a grant to help with program implementation — she noted that complying with it will increase costs to ratepayers.

The state can fine cities that don’t implement the regulations up to $10,000 a day.

All four City Council members at last week’s meeting — Councilman Bob Frutos was absent — voted to introduce the ordinance. But some noted that that community members will likely need some time to understand what should be put in their green bins.

“It goes in hand with education and the willingness to change what we’ve been doing for a hundred years,” Mayor Jess Talamantes said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]