The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), a California State Law designed to fight global warming by establishing a comprehensive program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sources throughout the state, is a cornerstone of California’s continued global climate leadership. In this Q&A with MuniEnvironmental CEO and Principal Consultant Jeff Duhamel, learn how waste management measures fall within the governor’s climate change strategy and why municipalities should pay close attention to SB 1383, a bill intended to address short-lived climate pollutants under the provisions of AB 32.
MuniEnvironmental News (MN): Let’s begin with an overview. Exactly what legislative requirements fall within the scope of AB 32?
Jeff Duhamel (JD): AB 32 is all about global warming. When landfills break down organic material, a lot of that gas— short-term climate pollutants—escapes. With the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, AB 32 addresses three methodologies: landfill methane control measures, increasing landfill methane capture and high recycling/zero waste. Within the category of high recycling/zero waste, there are four complementary bills: AB 341 – Mandatory Commercial Recycling, AB 1826 – Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling, AB 1594 – Alternative Daily Cover Eliminated and SB 1383 – Short-Lived Climate Pollutants. Seventy-five percent recycling is the next evolution in California’s permanent campaign of sustainability.
MN: On which of these measures should municipalities be tracking most closely?
JD: Most city managers and community activists are familiar with the first two bills, but SB 1383 is the lightbulb that needs to be turned on. SB 1383 calls for a 50 percent reduction of organics disposal by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction of organics disposal by 2025. You know that you’re supposed to keep your eye on the ball—now it’s time to keep your eye on the bill. SB 1383 is the goal post. These are decisions that have a big impact. Instead of defaulting to the recommendation or judgment of their local trash hauler to understand what is within or beyond scope, it’s important for cities to consult with industry experts such as MuniEnvironmental for guidance.
MN: To what areas does SB 1383 apply?
JD: SB 1383 is everything. It’s targeted to the entire waste stream, including residential.
MN: What do you see as the biggest challenge relating to implementing SB 1383?
JD: SB 1383 seems to be too big to handle—we have the legislation but we don’t have the infrastructure. City managers, public works and waste haulers must respond by working with other cities or businesses in a cooperative way to build new infrastructure. We have to see the big picture and identify regions and locations for potential cooperative facilities.
MN: What is the timeline on SB 1383?
JD: The rule-making process will go from 2017-2019. The enforceable date for compliance with regulations is January 2022, and jurisdictions may be required to impose penalties for non-compliance by January 2024. By January 2025, we must have achieved 75 percent reduction—and 20 percent of currently disposed edible food waste must be recovered for human consumption.
MN: Human consumption? What does that mean?
JD: We already do it at home, and have done so since Tupperware was developed in 1946 to contain and preserve food by keeping it airtight. More and more restaurants report boxing leftover food and sending it home with people
MN: What are some existing resources for recovering edible food waste?
JD: Organizations like Food Finders link donated food to pantries and shelters in order to bridge the hunger gap in California’s communities. There are people right down the street who could use the fruit from the market that is slightly overripe. Also, only 60 percent of what we grow is actually sold to the consumer; the rest of it doesn’t make it because it’s got a bruise or it’s the wrong color.
MN: What are the benefits of planning to comply with SB 1383?
JD: In this state, it’s the law. We all have a responsibility to do our part. We’re not to blame for climate change, but we’re the ones who can fix it.