About 25% of the nation’s freshwater is used to produce food that is thrown into the landfill, according to CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, who took part in a Politico climate event on Tuesday. This could help the state as it is in the midst of another drought, while also helping to reduce emissions, he explained.
“We've got an exceedingly crazy amount of food waste and people going hungry,” said Blumenfeld. “And that's a super pollutant. Methane is a 70 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.”
As the secretary spoke, the Air Resources Board launched the first of its workshops for updating the state’s Climate Scoping Plan.
Researchers pointed out that CalRecycle has recently finalized regulations requiring the diversion of 75% of food waste from landfills by 2025. The agency has also set a goal of recovering at least 20% of edible food that is destined for landfills.
Food waste is second to dairies in the amount of methane emissions released in California. The state’s dairy digester program, meanwhile, has led to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across all 70 pollution reduction programs.
Blumenfeld said “the next big frontier” is packaging. He pointed to a ballot initiative for 2022 that would levee a one-cent fee on every piece of plastic sold, raising about $5 billion a day.
“If you map that out nationally, there's a huge source of opportunity,” he said. “We estimate we could create about 100,000 good remanufacturing jobs in California, which have gone to places that are incinerating [plastic waste] or putting it in the ocean.”
Blumenfeld plans to ensure that eventually everything sold in California can be reused or recycled.