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What this new California law means for your food scraps

City officials said residents who already get trash service will soon get a green bin for free – and can use it for both yard trimmings and food waste.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Consider yourself warned: Starting Jan. 1, 2022, throwing food scraps, coffee grinds and dirty pizza boxes in the trash is illegal in California – and violators could be fined. It’s part of a push from state leaders to lessen the load at our landfills and reduce greenhouse gasses.

That trash will now go in green bins... which many San Diego city residents don’t currently have. City officials said residents who already get trash service will soon get a green bin for free – and can use it for both yard trimmings and food waste. 

“Your fruit and vegetable trimmings, coffee grinds, bread scraps - pretty much anything off your plate - or your food prep,” said Ken Prue with the city’s Department of Environmental Services. “A lot of times now somebody would put in the trash - it'll be something you'll need to put in the green bin.”

Not only will this save space in the landfill, but when food scraps decompose - they create methane which is bad for the environment. 

“It'll substantially reduce emissions - greenhouse gas emissions - generated from the organic matter,” Prue added.

The green bins will be emptied once a week and the contents recycled. 

“Either made into a compost or with some facilities, they'll be able to make electricity or vehicle fuel from it,” Prue said. “There's a lot of options, but definitely better than just sitting and rotting in a landfill.”

Under the new law, instead of throwing away rotten veggies – Prue said you'll store them in your kitchen.

“We'll be providing kitchen pails which basically it's something you can put on your counter or under your sink or even in your freezer if you have room,” he said. 

If you think separating food scraps from regular trash is rubbish and don't do it, you should know the city will be checking your bins and can issue fines starting at $30. 

It's still not clear when the green bins will be distributed, but once again, the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

WATCH RELATED: Earth 8: What are San Diego's new recycling rules? (April 2021)

   

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