California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Regulations


For information in Spanish or Chinese:      Español        中文

In 2016, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a variety of short-lived climate pollutants including methane from organic waste disposed in landfills. When organic waste such as food, yard trimmings, and paper products break down in a landfill they release methane - a potent greenhouse gas. Reducing methane is the fastest way to slow global warming. Landfills are the third largest producers of methane in California, responsible for 20% of the state’s methane emissions.

SB 1383 is the largest and most prescriptive waste management legislation in California since the California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (AB 939).

SB 1383 sets several statewide goals, including:

  • Reduce statewide disposal of organic waste by 50% by January 1, 2020 and 75% by 2025.
  • Recover at least 20% of the currently disposed edible food for human consumption by 2025.

By diverting organic waste away from landfills to anaerobic digesters or composting operations and recovering edible food for human consumption, California can make significant strides toward fighting climate change and improving public health and the environment.

27 million tons of organics disposed/year, 6 million is edible food 

Requirements for Jurisdictions

To meet SB 1383’s statewide goals, the California Department of Resource Recovery and Recycling (CalRecycle) created regulations that require all jurisdictions to implement very specific actions:

  • Provide mandatory organics collection service to all residents and businesses.
  • Establish an edible food recovery program that keeps edible food from the waste stream and redistributes it to feed people in need.
  • Conduct outreach and education to the community.
  • Purchase recycled organics products such as compost, recycled-content paper, and energy derived from organic waste.
  • Secure access to organic waste processing and edible food recovery capacity.
  • Monitor compliance and conduct enforcement.

Requirements for the City of Palo Alto

Palo Alto already meets most of SB 1383’s requirements through existing Zero Waste programs and ordinances.

To be fully compliant, Palo Alto will have to take the following actions:

  • Establish an edible food recovery program, including a new ordinance requiring food generators to recover the food they generate to feed people instead of disposing of it (in the landfill or compost).
  • Increase City procurement of products made from recycled organics (e.g., compost, recycled-content paper and energy derived from organic waste).
  • Increase capacity for edible food recovery in our region.
  • Adjust the Zero Waste enforcement program to incorporate the new monitoring and compliance requirements. 


Who Is Affected?

Commercial Edible Food Generators

SB 1383 has specific requirements for commercial edible food generators and splits them into two tiers with different compliance dates

  • Tier One Commercial Edible Food Generator:
    • Supermarket
    • Grocery store with a total facility size equal to or greater than 10,000 square feet
    • Food service provider
    • Food distributor
    • Wholesale food vendor
  • Tier Two Commercial Edible Food Generator:
    • Restaurant with 250 or more seats, or a total facility size equal to or greater than 5,000 square feet
    • Hotel with an on-site food facility and 200 or more rooms
    • Health facility with an on-site food facility and 100 or more beds
    • Large event or venue
    • A state agency with a cafeteria with 250 or more seats or total cafeteria facility size equal to or greater than 5,000 square feet
    • A local education agency with an on-site food facility

Commercial Edible Food Generators Requirements

  • Arrange to recover the maximum amount of their edible food to feed people through a food recovery organization instead of disposing the edible food (in landfill or compost).
  • Have a contract or written agreement with each food recovery organization or service that picks up or receives edible food.
  • Maintain records of type, frequency, and pounds of food recovered each month.
  • Submit an annual Food Recovery Report.


For more information visit the Santa Clara County Food Recovery Program.

Food Recovery Organizations and Services

Food recovery organizations or services that have established a contract or written agreement to collect or receive edible food directly from commercial edible food generators must maintain records of what they collect and from whom.

For more information visit the Santa Clara County Food Recovery Program.

Business and Residential Customers


  • Businesses and residents must sort their waste appropriately so recyclables and organics are sorted into the appropriate color-coded containers and do not go in landfills.

Audits & Enforcement

  • Business and residential organic collection routes are subject to audits.  If found to be non-compliant, enforcement of the local and state requirements must be implemented.   

Self-Haulers of Organic Waste

If you self-haul the organic waste (e.g., grass clippings, yard trimmings, tree cuttings) you generate, you must comply with the following:

  • Source separate all organic waste or take it to a high diversion organic waste processing facility.
  • Haul your source-separated organic waste to a facility that processes or recovers source separated organic waste.
  • Keep records of the amount and type of waste delivered to each waste facility including delivery receipts and weight tickets from each facility.

Additional Info: Organic Waste Self-Hauler Mailer 





  • Effective January 1, 2022:
    • Tier One Commercial Food Generators are required to recover the maximum amount of edible food that would otherwise be disposed. 
    • Food Recovery Organizations and Services, within each jurisdiction, need to be functioning to collect and distribute the edible food. 
    • Businesses and residents are required to separate their organic waste (e.g., food scraps, yard trimmings, food-soiled paper) and place it in their green compost container as identified in PAMC 5.20.100. 
    • The City is required to perform a variety of specific actions to comply (e.g., establish an edible food recovery program, procure products or energy made from recycled organics, create mandatory organics programs).  These actions are listed in the Requirements for Jurisdictions section.
  • Effective January 1, 2024: 
    • Tier Two Commercial Food Generators are required to recover the maximum amount of edible food that would otherwise be disposed. 
    • The City will be required to monitor businesses and residents for compliance and conduct enforcement.