California Compost Mandate Demystified: Your Go-To Guide

California Compost Mandate Demystified: Your Go-To Guide
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Welcome to the green revolution in California! Since January 1, 2022, a transformative composting law has been in effect throughout the state. Let's unravel the details of the California compost mandate and explore why it matters.

In January 2022, California implemented a groundbreaking composting law, embedded in Senate Bill 1383, affecting individuals and organizations across the state. This law primarily targets organic materials like food scraps and yard waste. Towns, cities, and counties in California require all residents and businesses to separate organics from garbage. This initiative aims to redirect organic materials away from landfills.

Why did California implement this compost law? A significant motivation for this law stems from the detrimental impact of organic waste in landfills. The decomposition of food waste in landfills releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. California aspires to achieve a 75% reduction in organic waste disposal in landfills by 2025.

How to Effortlessly Separate Compostable Waste

separate organics to comply with California compost mandate

For efficient waste separation, consider a composting garbage disposal like Sepura. Wash all food scraps down your sink for easy disposal, and solids are sent to an odor-free compost bin while only liquids drain.

Sepura automatically collects your food scraps without having to see, touch, or smell your food waste until it’s time to empty it into your green bin or backyard compost.

What You Can And Can’t Put in The Green Waste Bin California

In your compostable cart (aka green bin), you can toss in a variety of food scraps, including meat, fish, dairy, fruits, and more. Cardboard and yard waste are also fair game. However, steer clear of biodegradable plastics, waxed cardboard, and certain types of vegetation.

Note: Local guidelines may vary, so always check with your town, city, or county for specific instructions.

What food scraps can be composted in California?

Any food scraps that are edible such as meat, fruits, vegetables, and others like bones, can be put in the green bin. Before composting food scraps, did you know you can reuse them? Check out these 13 surprising uses for kitchen scraps.  

Food Scraps

Can you compost it?

Meat (including bones)

Fish & shellfish

Dairy products

Cooking grease & oils (in small amounts mixed with dry materials)





Coffee grounds



What paper and cardboard items can be composted in California?

What paper and cardboard can be composted California

Cardboard with food or grease on it can't be recycled because it's considered contaminated. However, it can be put in California green bins. Any wax or plastic-lined paper cannot be put into the compostable cart.

Paper & Cardboard

Can you compost it?

Greasy pizza boxes

Unwaxed paper plates


Paper towels

Paper soup cups


Milk cartons (including non-dairy containers)


Waxed cardboard or paper



What yard waste can be composted in California?

Many yard waste items like leaves, grass clippings, and weeds can be put into the green bin. There are some types of vegetation like yucca, poison oak, and bamboo that can’t be composted and should be put into the garbage if you can’t find another use for it.

Yard Waste

Can you compost it?


Lawn grass clippings

Shrub & tree clippings




Smaller branches (under 4 feet long and less than 3 inches in diameter)

Palm fronds




Agave americana (century plant)


Poison Oak




Pet or human waste



Can plastics and biodegradable products be put in California green bins?

can biodegradable and compostable plastics go in California green bin

Many products labeled as biodegradable such as cups, bags, containers, and utensils cannot be composted in California’s compost program. Plastics should be recycled and should not be placed in the compostable cart.

Biodegradable Items & Plastics

Can you compost it?

Compostable/biodegradable plastics


Compostable/biodegradable bags


Compostable/biodegradable cups or containers


Compostable/biodegradable utensils


Plastic bags


To-go coffee cups and lids


Plastic cups and lids


Fines and Compliance

Fines for non-compliance won't be enforced until January 2024, and local jurisdictions will be responsible for imposing them. Residents who contaminate their green bin with non-accepted compost items can be fined from $50 to $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for their third or more offenses. Cities that don’t comply with this compost law can be fined up to $10,000 per day. It's crucial to stay informed about your local guidelines to avoid penalties.


In conclusion, California's compost mandate is a pivotal step toward a greener future. Embrace composting not just as a legal obligation but as a way to contribute to a healthier environment. Start your composting journey today!