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SB 1383: What is it and what does it mean for San Diego businesses?

Feeding San Diego food rescue truck leaving grocery store.png
Feeding San Diego
A Feeding San Diego food rescue truck departs from a local Jimbo's grocery store after a food pickup in San Diego on an unknown date.

The SB 1383 law was passed in 2016, but takes effect on January 1, 2022. It’s a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants in landfills by reducing disposal of organic waste.

Bob Harrington is the owner of Specialty Produce, one of the largest food service and retail fresh produce suppliers in San Diego and a business that has to comply with SB 1383.

“The new law is really rational and has a lot of common sense to it. So, that as the foundation and the idea that we can recycle rather than throw things away is probably a lot healthier for our society,” Harrington said.

Business will continue as usual for them because they’ve had waste reduction procedures in place for more than a decade.

“We decided to really look at a way of making sure that everything that comes in through the back door is useful and if we don’t deliver it to a restaurant or to a customer, where can we place it,” Harrington continued. “We started working with local farms that grow pigs.”

According to CalRecycle, our state throws away about 1.8 billion unsold, still fresh meals a year.

To cut waste that causes landfill methane emissions, all wholesalers, grocery stores and other food businesses must donate their surplus of still fresh food to hunger relief organizations like Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank.

“We work with the San Diego Food Bank and we have a schedule of pickups daily,” Harrington went on to say, “Anything that we have that can be consumed by humans goes into a particular ‘waste not’ section. We call it our ‘waste not program.’ We don’t waste.”

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AB 1383: What is it and what does it mean for San Diego businesses?

Patty O’Connor is the chief supply chain officer for Feeding San Diego and says every food generator has to have a written agreement with a food relief organization.

“By requiring food generators to reduce the amount of food they throw away into the landfills that then provides more edible food that we at Feeding San Diego can rescue and in turn distribute out to the people in San Diego,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor says Feeding San Diego has been rescuing food for almost 15 years and has almost 800 food pickups a week.

“We have about 400 partners throughout San Diego that distribute our food, about 160 of them are actually helping us direct rescue,” O’Connor continued, “So they will go to an Albertson’s and pick up the food that morning that has been designated for pickup and then they’ll bring it back to their community.”

The one major adjustment Feeding San Diego has had to make is making sure they have enough resources!

“We are trying to staff up and get more trucks and get more volunteers and help save as much food as possible,” O’Connor said.

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The goal of SB 1383 is to reduce 75% of landfilled organic waste and increase edible food recovery by 20% by 2025.

Penalties for not complying with the new law include fines between $500 and $10,000 dollars a day depending on the violation.