California’s New Food Waste Law Is Backfiring

California’s law, which was meant to combat hunger and protect the environment, went into effect in the year 2000.

S.B. 1383 became effective in January and requires supermarkets, other large food suppliers, to divert at least 25% of food destined to dumps to be donated to food banks for the benefit of the poor. Los Angeles Times reportedIn December. According to Reuters, “It entrusts cities and counties with the formulation of local plans with a statewide goal for recovering 20% edible food by 2025.” reportedThis was earlier in the month. S.B. S.B. 1383 was the first law in America to mandate that businesses donate food for hungry people. Phased-in compliance requirements include possible fines.Large grocery stores and food wholesalers first; restaurants and cafeterias later will need to conform or risk fines.” ABC7 reportedThis week.

This law, in addition to combating hunger, was also It is intended to combat food waste—which has an outsized contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, as food sent to landfills belches methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It is a problem of immense scale that food waste can be. As I detail in my book We should all eat from the hands that feed us: What smarter laws would make our food system more sustainable?, nearly 40 percent of all our food—roughly 40 million tons of it—goes to waste in the field, during processing, in transit, at the store, and/or on the plate. This lost food is worth more than $165 million every year. Ten percent goes to food waste. It is a huge environmental problem. The third largest contributor to the atmospheric greenhouse gases is food waste. And food that’s wasted still uses the same inputs to grow—water, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel, wages—as food that’s eaten. The book notes that these resources can be used regardless of whether food is consumed or left in a field to die in landfills or fields.

California law’s positive aspects have attracted a host of enthusiastic supporters. “This will reduce food waste and address food insecurity for millions of people,” Alhambra Mayor Sasha Renée Pérez tweetedThis was earlier in the year. California again leads!” CBS San Diego affiliate was last month reportedAccording to the law, the law has caused dramatic increases in food donation.This is “great news”, as it means there’s more food for residents in San Diego who would otherwise go hungry [and]Food won’t be allowed to decay in landfills and release harmful greenhouse gases.

Numerous reports point out that it is not easy to comply with the law.This is not an easy task.,” ABC7 in Los Angeles Reports. Because grocers have not been able to “order” local food, restaurant, or food bank, etc.Figur[d]Find out who’s responsible for the reclaiming [food]Remainders [under the law]How to do it and the cost of doing so.” The only reason these costs have risen is because record gas prices. These challenges make it difficult for small communities and local food banks to put into practice. [the law]Reuters notes that rising fuel costs have led to an increase in the cost of food recovery and uncertainty about who pays.

Although record fuel costs were difficult to forecast, there had been other increases in cost under the law. According to the League of California Cities, a majority of local authorities expect refuse collection rates will rise by less than 20 percent. However, 1 in 5 cities expects charges to rise. L.A. Times Detailed explanationIn a last year article, I discussed the new law. This also requires that you compost food waste. Costa Mesa is an early adopter and promoter of curbside green recycle. It estimates that in nine years the monthly rates will go up to $24.10 per person, which would be $6.10 more than it was for 2023-24.

However Rumours to the contraryBusinesses that wish to give leftover food to those in need or to organizations who aid them have few restrictions. These are the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan ActThe law was signed by President Clinton. Bill Clinton signed this law more than 25 year ago. It protects commercial food and charitable individuals from all civil and criminal liability. 

The mandatory government regulations for the reduction or elimination of food waste are not applicable. FactThe government is responsible for creating food waste. This includes the federally-funded industry group that creates it. tart cherry quotasFarmers whose crop exceeds the quota are forced to throw away the excess; Contract for terrible waste managementOakland, California signed a 2015 agreement that makes it more affordable for restaurants to dispose of food rather than recycle it. 

I bet California lawmakers meant well in passing the measure to combat food waste and hunger, but before they crafted yet another law that looks to be hurting the little guy—food banks, struggling businesses, small cities and towns in California, and people in need, in this case—they might’ve explored and addressed ways government itself causes or contributes to those same problems.