Schools Reduce Organic Waste with SB 1383

As methane and short-lived climate pollutants become more detrimental to our environment, GGI recognizes the importance of recycling organic waste. A California bill called SB 1383 has potential to set standards for organic waste reduction and recycling across the nation.

SB1383 was passed in the state of California in efforts to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. It all started in September 2016, when Governor Edmund Brown Jr. set methane emissions reduction targets for California in a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. SB 1383 directed the California Air Resources Board to approve and begin implementing the plan by January 1, 2018, and set statewide 2030 emission reduction targets for methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and anthropogenic black carbon.

The main goals of SB 1383 are to:

  1. reduce organic waste disposal 75% by 2025, and
  2. rescue at least 20% of surplus food currently disposed for people to eat by 2025.

Visual of organic waste impact from CalRecycle.

The plans to reduce organic waste include:

  • mandatory source-separated collection,
  • edible food recovery, recovery standards,
  • reducing contamination of organic waste in disposal streams,
  • infrastructure planning,
  • procurement at the local level of compost, mulch, renewable gas, electricity from biomass conversion, and recyclable paper products.

SB 1383 also requires reporting and enforcement of the above protocol.


Why is organic waste reduction and recycling important to implement in schools? Mallory McGoff, project manager at GGI, tells us,

“California schools and universities produce over a billion pounds of trash each year and it’s estimated that approximately half of that is organic. That’s an enormous amount of methane entering the atmosphere unnecessarily.”


Her advice to implement strategies for better organic waste recycling is to,

“teach students and staff how to use the 3-bin system properly… Schools can provide training, posters, and student bin monitor programs to educate and prevent contamination… At the district level, the facilities department should make sure schools have the bins and equipment they need to comply and the nutrition department should work on plans and procedures for recovering and donating edible food.

Mohr’s Green Team poses with their 3-bin system signs.

As for GGI’s own personal check-list for organic waste in our districts, Mallory says,

“We’re working with school districts to help bring them into full and excellent compliance with all California waste reduction and diversion laws to which they are subject. They must keep waste streams separate across all areas of their facilities by recycling and composting, recover edible food in their cafeterias and Child Nutrition departments, and educate staff and students to effectively prevent and reduce waste.”

GGI has been implementing SB 1383 within our California districts for years, and use similar ideas from the bill to fight against short-lived climate pollutants in all of our schools and districts. For districts outside of California,

“We’re working to codify what we do into a complete toolkit that can be used by any school district in the country working to prevent and reduce waste.”

If you are interested in this work, consider applying for our Program Coordinator position.

“We’re looking for Program Coordinators to support our SB 1383 compliance programs with Bay Area school districts. The coordinator(s) will work daily with school stakeholders across scales–from senior district administrators to students–to help the district establish and implement customized programs for compliance.”