CARLSBAD — On New Year’s Day, every municipality in California must have a plan in place to meet organic waste goals set by the state legislature.
Senate Bill 1383 mandates the amount of organic waste disposal in landfills be cut by 75% and recover at least 20% of edible food disposal by 2025. Accordingly, the Carlsbad City Council approved its Sustainable Materials Management Implementation plan on Dec. 14, along with adding new plastic-ban policies citywide.
The state’s new organic waste law requires businesses and residents to divert food waste from landfills. Methane from food waste is a major source of emissions and the state is aggressively trying to reduce emission levels as climate change concerns grow.
“To see it come full circle after a few years is exciting,” Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel said. “It’s important and not just from a climate perspective. This is one of those things that we’re bringing change to our community. This is going to be something future generations thank us for.”
Residents will be provided organics collection services from the city’s new waste hauler, Republic Services, which begins on July 1, 2022. According to the staff report, the city’s Sustainable Materials Management Implementation plan will decrease greenhouse gases, or GHGs, by 3,344 metric tons while removing 2,143 metric tons of trash from area landfills.
The new plastic bans include a phased approach over the next two years starting with an ordinance for single-use plastic and Styrofoam food ware on request, which begin on June 1, 2022, and be banned by July 1, 2023. Also, bans on plastic bottles for city facilities and city-affiliated events and intentionally releasing balloons start on July 1, 2023.
The council approved the hiring of six new positions to manage the new organics and plastic programs, along with a raise for the Senior Program Manager. The annual cost for four of the positions paid through the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund comes to $537,375, while the other two positions will be paid from the general fund at an estimated total of $243,508 annually.
Some on the council expressed concerns with rising costs associated with state law compliance and new positions to execute the city’s programs. Councilman Keith Blackburn, who supported the item, said the growing cost will put stress on the city’s bottom line. Mayor Matt Hall said the more than 40 new hires over the past two years have also taken a toll on the budget.
Regardless, the two supported the measure and the city appears to be in compliance with SB 1383. For those not in compliance by Jan. 1, they will be fined up to $10,000 per day, according to the law.
Hall stressed for city staff to connect with business owners to help ease the transition to new products and find distributors. Additionally, Hall, Councilman Peder Norby and Environmental Management Director Jamie Wood said costs are dropping for reusable and biodegradable food ware and utensils.
One of the biggest things with this is finding the marine-degradable or compostable materials to replace the plastics and Styrofoam,” Wood said. “It’s out there, but it’s not as easily available. We did a pilot in 2019 and finished this year and found working with restaurants and businesses most are willing to do it, they just need the equipment to replace the plastics and Styrofoam.”