LA City implements compost program

Photo courtesy Lenka Dzurendova, via Unsplash

By Angelina Herrera

Residents of the Los Angeles area are now required to compost food scraps with Senate Bill 1383 coming into effect in January 2023. This program aims to help reduce the amount of organic waste in our landfills. 

Organics L.A., the program created through Senate Bill 1383, requires residents and businesses to leave food-spoiled paper and food scraps inside the green bin which formerly housed only yard waste. By doing so, these components will be used as compost. 

“I think the idea is great, in terms of trying to prevent an increase in greenhouse gas emissions (created when the bacteria decompose it), and making composting easier to do, as well as getting farmers the usable compost,” AP Environmental Science teacher Erica Brauer said. 

The Organics L.A. program aims for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Residents have the easy job of just placing organic waste into the green bin which is emptied out every week. Los Angeles also offers residents free kitchen bins to collect their waste, if they register.

The scraps of fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggshells, bread, coffee grounds/filters, and more are now allowed to go into the green bin alongside yard waste, but make sure not to put plastics, glass, produce stickers, pet waste/litter, etc. into the green bin as those items are not compostable. 

In 2024, residents who incorrectly throw away their waste and compromise the compost may face a fine of up to $500, according to KTLA News.

The contents inside the green bin will be picked up every week and transferred to be composted in commercial facilities. In turn, the compost created will be used by farmers to grow their specific organic products. 

Through the new composting program there are numerous ways that the environment receives benefits from your own backyard. 

“First, if you use the compost for your garden etc, it adds nutrients back to the soil in a much more natural way, versus using commercial grade fertilizers,” Brauer said. “Adding nutrients back to the soil allows plants to grow faster, bigger, and healthier. It also means less fertilizer run-off, in situations like what we had recently, with a lot of rainfall.” 

With the advantages of the Organic L.A. composting program, there are also some side effects connected too. One of the side effects is the increased amount of methane being released in landfills. The  decomposition process of landfills is also becoming slower due to the lessened amount of organic matter. 

“Many landfills collect the methane created by the landfill and USE it for energy, meaning we could become less dependent on fossil fuels if we use the methane from landfills,” Brauer said.“That could mean we would need to use more methane from fossil fuels to support energy needs, thus eliminating the benefit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.” 

In all, the Organic L.A. program allows for Los Angeles residents to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by simply putting food scraps into the green bin, and by doing so, we can change our rapidly changing environment with one simple task.