Say "No" to Downcycled Food Waste

AB 2959 amends Section 40049.4 of the California Public Resources Code explicitly preventing supermarkets, grocers, restaurants, and other retail food establishments from submitting their organic “byproducts from the processing of food or beverages” for purification and processing for animal food. Instead, these byproducts would be considered solid waste and subject to exclusive waste hauler franchises, contracts, licenses, or permits. Currently, these businesses can choose to have their organic byproduct picked up and upcycled through processing and purification to produce useful, nutrient-rich food, feed and fuel ingredients that have been depended on for decades.

√ Add to landfills     √ May increase your operating costs

√ May reduce availability of low-carbon fuels     √ Accelerate climate change

√ Increase price of feed and pet food     √ May lose choice of service provider

What Should You Do?

AB 2959 is currently in the Senate Committee for Environmental Quality. Contact your representative and encourage them to vote no for AB 2959, vote no for waste downcycling. Find your representative on the Environmental Quality Committee below and let them know how you feel.

Click here to download this fillable letter and email its contents to your representative.

Benjamin Allen, (Chair) - District 26
Patricia C. Bates, (Vice Chair) - District 36
Brian Dahle - District 1
Jerry Hill - District 13
Nancy Skinner - District 9
Henry Stern - District 27
Bob Wieckowski - District 10

More Detail

AB 2959 (Calderon) MUST BE OPPOSED because recycling "byproducts from the processing of food or beverages" at all levels from production to retail to the highest priority use should be encouraged. Repurposing such byproducts as food for animals and biofuel production are higher priority uses than composting or anaerobic digestion. An unintentional consequence of AB 2959 implementation would be supermarkets, grocers, restaurants and other retail food establishments placing their animal byproducts and inedible kitchen grease (IKG) into the solid waste stream. These organic materials have traditionally been recycled by the rendering industry to make nutritious ingredients for pets and other animals to eat and feedstocks to make biodiesel and renewable diesel needed to meet California's demand for low carbon fuels.

AB 2959 Appears to Create Conflicting Regulations.

AB 2959 will cause confusion for supermarkets, grocers, restaurants and other retail food establishments as they try to determine what they are permitted to do with meat and fat trimmings, bones and spoiled meats and meat products which are also known as animal byproducts. The definition for "solid waste" in Section 40191 of the California Public Resource Code ("PRC") includes all except hazardous waste, radioactive waste and certain medical waste. Specifically, all putrescible and non-putrescible solid, semisolid, and liquid wastes including animal or vegetable solid and semisolid wastes are defined as solid waste. This all-inclusive definition can be interpreted to include the animal byproducts and IKG that according to Title 3. Food and Agriculture Code of Regulations must be transported and processed by licensed renderers and cannot be subject to disposal as solid waste. Additionally, animal processing byproducts are not included as the "byproducts from the processing of food or beverages" addressed in section 40059.4 of the PRC (Division 30, Chapter 1, Article 2). Not only do the regulations in the PRC appear to be inconsistent but they also potentially overlap with the Agriculture Code. AB 2959 will further cloud, rather than clarify, issues pertaining to collection of animal byproducts and IKG from supermarkets, grocers, restaurants and other retail food establishments. Because these animal materials are called byproducts and they and IKG are derived from food processing, it is easy to see how retail food establishments may treat them all as solid waste.

AB 2959 clearly seeks to prevent supermarkets, grocers, restaurants and other retail food establishments from recycling their "byproducts from the processing of food or beverages" as food for animals and requires such byproducts be subject to an exclusive franchise, contract, license, or permit as solid waste. These are the same retail food establishments that generate animal byproducts as well as IKG. It is therefore likely, that these retail food establishments, who may not understand or have knowledge of the respective laws and regulations for properly handling these different types of materials, will consider all of their organic materials to be "byproducts from the processing of food or beverages" which according to AB 2959 must be disposed of as solid waste. Diverting any organic material from an established recycling program and disposing of it as solid waste is not sustainable and should not be allowed. Diverting animal byproducts and IKG that are routinely upcycled to make animal food ingredients and renewable fuels is especially wasteful and in direct conflict with California's own goals for organic recycling and the low carbon fuel standard ("LCFS").

IKG and Animal Fats are important to California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS)

Both animal fats and IKG are important to California because biodiesel or renewable diesel were determined by the California Air Resources Board ("CARB") to have very desirable carbon intensity scores. Figure 1 shows volumes of biomass-based diesel, which includes both biodiesel and renewable diesel, made from IKG or animal fats used in California since 2015. CARB summarized performance data from 2011 to 2019 for gasoline and diesel fuels and reported a 5.97% reduction in carbon intensity, which is a good step toward the 20% reduction by 2030 mandate (https: // qov/ fuels/ lcfs/ dashboard/ dashboard.htm).

The use of biomass-based diesels in transportation fuels increased 323 million gallons from 2011 to 2019 (Figure 1). This is an increase of 179%. This growth is further illustrated relative to diesel use since 2011 in Figure 2. By the end of 2019, biomass-based diesels made up almost 22% of the total California diesel pool. Additional growth is expected to occur as more renewable diesel capacity and biodiesel production capacity comes on line to meet the demand in California.

Waste haulers lack the equipment necessary to process IKG and animal byproducts to make suitable feedstocks for biodiesel or renewable diesel. A reduction in available renewable feedstocks because animal byproducts and IKG were disposed of as solid waste could seriously impact California's ability to meet the 2030 carbon intensity reduction target. Indeed, biomass-based diesel is an important key to the success of California's LCFS success going forward, as shown in Figure 3. Since 2015, biomass-based diesel has outpaced ethanol and all other low carbon fuels in qualifying for LCFS credits. The low carbon intensities associated with biodiesel and renewable diesel make these biofuels critical for California to meet the 2030 mandate.

Diverting Organics from Animal Feeding or Biofuels Production to Composting is Downcycling

The EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy ranks uses for food waste, including "byproducts from the processing of food or beverages", animal byproducts and IKG, from most to least preferable (Figure 4). Feeding animals and making biofuels are second only to providing food to humans. As an effective waste management practice, composting is ranked low by the EPA, only slightly higher than landfills, which are the last resort. Composting produces only relatively low-value material compared to anaerobic digestion and rendering. Gooding and Meeker (2016)1 reviewed the limited research on composting of animal derived materials and noted that in addition to releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, composting may also produce methane and nitrous oxide. They summarized that total greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions may be three to five times greater than if all of the carbon in the starting animal tissue was released as carbon dioxide. Rendering captures the carbon in animal byproducts and IKG to avoid at least 90% of the GHG emissions compared to composting; more carbon is captured than emitted. For animal byproducts, five carbons are captured and recycled for each carbon emitted as carbon dioxide, making rendering an important GHG avoidance technology. This ratio of carbon captured to emitted is even more favorable for processing IKG at a rendering plant.

Including Recycled Organics That Were Never Landfilled as Diverted Solid Waste is Misleading

Animal byproducts and IKG have been collected, transported and processed by renderers for decades. Except for whole grains and some sources of vitamins and minerals, byproducts have been the primary ingredients in animal feeds since before commercial feed formulation began in the early 1900's. Prior to the discovery that animal byproducts were valuable sources of essential nutrients in animal feed, they were commonly used as fertilizers. Thus, byproducts from food, including meats, and beverage processing that are recycled to provide nutrients for animals or crops or used to make biofuels have not been part of the 35 million tons of waste deposited in California landfills each year. Considering these byproducts as solid waste so that they can be diverted to composting or anaerobic digestion is misleading, counterproductive and will have a negative impact on the environment. Goals to reduce material going into a landfill are needed, but measures of progress toward reaching these goals must be restricted to the amount of material being deposited into landfills, compared with the amount of material actually diverted from the landfill. Organic recycling programs need to be recognized for what they do for the environment. Such recycling can reduce: (1) GHG production, (2) the need to clear land for new crop acreage, (3) dependence on petroleum products, (4) reliance on synthetic materials and (5) cost of goods to consumers. In addition, society has come to rely on many different consumer products that utilize recycled materials, as is or after further processing. Diverting these recycled organics to solid waste will increase demand for new crops or chemicals as replacements for the lost recycled products. In the end, the process to make the same consumer goods will be less sustainable and the cost higher for consumers. Byproducts that are recycled are not waste products. Instead they have value to society and in protecting the environment.

In Summary

AB 2959 (Calderon) MUST BE OPPOSED because an unintentional consequence of AB 2959 implementation will be the reduction of organic material recycling in California. Supermarkets, grocers, restaurants and other retail food establishments will be forced to place their animal byproducts and IKG into the solid waste stream, which will seriously affect sustainability of livestock and poultry feeding in the state, affect the cost of pet foods and affect the supply of low carbon biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Animal byproducts and IKG have traditionally been recycled by the rendering industry to make nutritious ingredients for pets and other animals to eat and feedstocks to make biodiesel and renewable diesel needed to meet California's demand for low carbon fuels. Darling believes that the recycling of animal byproducts and inedible kitchen grease by licensed renderers is an important organic recycling practice consistent with the Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989. Therefore, legislation should not interfere with, complicate, compete with or overlap the requirements for licensing and hauling of organic material regulated under Chapter 5 of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Food and Agriculture Code as these practices are considered recycling under the Public Resource Code.

1 Gooding C. and D. Meeker. 2016. Comparison of 3 alternatives for large-scale processing of animal carcasses and meat by-products. Prof. Anim. Sci. Vol. 32 pp259-270.

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