A mandatory composting program kicks off Jan. 1 in California, mandating 40 million people empty their food scraps into a countertop container and eventually to their city’s compost site. The stated goal is to keep the food out of landfills where the rotting food waste is blamed for releasing methane gas and allegedly contributing to man-made climate change.
Sacramento-based policy analyst Steven Greenhut of the R Street Institute says the new composting law is “symbolism over substance” in a state that is well-known for pushing environmentalism.
"It's just a way to look like we're doing something about climate change in a way that sounds dramatic,” he says. “It isn't really all that dramatic when you get down to it --- isn't going to do much to help anything."
"This is the biggest change to trash since recycling started in the 1980s," the director of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery told The Associated Press.
That comment, in fact, symbolizes California's 40-year history of environmentalism in a state with crushing taxes and a sky-high cost of living. This year, the country's most-populous state has drained enough residents that it lost a congressional seat for the first time ever.
After the new law takes effect, municipalities that refuse to comply with the state law could be fined up to $10,000 per day for violating the requirement.
At the household level, cities have some discretion on penalties and could eventually fine people who don't follow the rules, too.