California Law Promotes Landfill Waste Reduction by Donating Unused Food to Those in Need

San Diego, CA – A new law in California aims to reduce waste in landfills and address food insecurity by requiring certain businesses to donate unused food to food recovery organizations. Senate Bill 1383, which went into effect in 2022, initially applied to grocery stores. However, as of January 1, 2024, the law has expanded to include hotels, restaurants, health facilities, state agency cafeterias, local education agencies, and large venues and events.

The primary goal of SB 1383 is to divert food waste from landfills, as decomposing food produces methane gas, a potent pollutant. Patty O’Connor, Chief Operating Officer of Feeding San Diego, emphasized the environmental benefits of the legislation, stating, “There’s so much food that gets thrown into the landfill…the main reason that this bill was passed was to keep that food and other organic waste out of the landfill.”

Notably, the City of San Diego distributed small compost bins last year as part of its efforts to implement SB 1383. However, not all leftover food from large venues can be donated. O’Connor explained that there are strict guidelines to ensure food safety, such as ensuring proper temperatures for hot food and following specific protocols for handling buffet leftovers.

Despite the challenges, Feeding San Diego is fully committed to implementing the law and plays a crucial role in coordinating food donations. According to O’Connor, they connect food donors, such as grocery stores and venues, with partner organizations that directly pick up and distribute donations. This model eliminates the need for additional warehouse space since most donations are distributed immediately.

Feeding San Diego already collaborates with notable establishments like the San Diego Zoo and the Hotel Del Coronado. O’Connor hopes that more venues will join the cause, and her organization is ready to offer assistance. She emphasized Feeding San Diego’s dedication, stating, “This is what we do, day in and day out.”

The impact of these efforts is evident, with approximately 76% of the organization’s distributed items being rescued from potential waste. SB 1383 aims to further increase these numbers, but O’Connor notes that there is still a constant need for additional donations.

In conclusion, California’s SB 1383 seeks to combat waste and food insecurity by mandating the donation of unused food from various businesses. Feeding San Diego plays a vital role in coordinating these efforts, connecting food donors with partner organizations to ensure immediate distribution. While progress has been made, the need for more donations remains as food waste continues to be a pressing issue.