Beginning on January 1, 2022, certain places that create food waste must give more of it to non-profits instead of throwing it away or turning it into compost.

The law is designed to reduce the production of methane, which contributes to climate change, and will help the state achieve its climate targets by:

  • Reducing statewide disposal of organic waste 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025
  • Recovering at least 20% of disposed edible food for human consumption by 2025 

This law applies to food generators and food donation programs. Please read the details of how the law impacts your business below.

Food generators are defined as Tier 1 and Tier 2. Check the definitions if your business or organization is subject to regulations for SB1383:

Tier 1 food generators (Effective, January 1, 2022):

  • Supermarket (with revenue ≥ $2 million)
  • Grocery store (≥ 10,000+ sq. ft) 
  • Contracted Food Service Provider (for universities, employee cafeterias, airlines, etc)  
  • Food distributor 
  • Wholesale food vendor 

Tier 2 food generators (Effective, January 1, 2024):

  • Restaurant (≥ 250 seats or 5,000 sq. ft.) 
  • Hotel (with onsite food facility and  ≥ 200 rooms)
  • Health facility (with onsite food facility & ≥ 100 beds) 
  • Large events and venues 
  • State agency with cafeteria (≥ 250 seats or 5,000 sq. ft.) 
  • Public and private schools with on-site food facility 

How to comply

Tier 1 and Tier 2 food generators are required to follow the same compliance protocol on their respective effective dates.

Recover surplus food

  • Safely recover the maximum amount of edible food and donate it to a food program to feed community members. Intentionally spoiling food is prohibited.
  • Assess and record the type, frequency, and pounds of food donated each month.

Connect and contract

  • Partner with food programs such as soup kitchens, food pantries, food banks or other organizations or companies that rescue food to feed people.
  • Create a written agreement with each food program that picks up or receives donated food from your business. See the Model Food Recovery Agreement as an example template. 

Track and report

  • Maintain records of the following:
    • Types of food donated
    • Frequency or schedules of food donations
    • Quantity of food recovered in pounds per month
  • Keep records on-site of written agreements with food programs at your business location for review and compliance inspection and monitoring by applicable City agencies.
  • Track donations with the Donation Tracking Template
  • Report food recovery data to the City and County of San Francisco annually - More info coming soon!

Liability protection

Food generators that donate food are protected by the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and California AB 1219, as long as the food was donated in good faith and followed safe handling procedures.

This section covers hunger relief organizations that receive food donations from Tier 1 or 2 businesses and food recovery services that transport food donations to hunger relief organizations.

Effective January 1, 2022, SB 1383 requires certain food generators to donate the maximum amount of surplus food to local food donation programs that feed or distribute food to community members. They must establish written agreements with food programs and track the amount, frequency and types of food donated monthly. 

Your organization may experience an increase in food donation requests from food generating businesses subject to SB 1383. Food donation programs are encouraged, but not required, to increase the amount of food they receive from these generators. It is at the discretion of each organization to decide if you accept or decline requests for surplus food donations from generators as well as requests to enter into a written agreement. 

How to comply

Connect and contract 

  • If your organization agrees to accept donations from businesses subject to SB 1383 or is already doing so, you must establish a written agreement and track and report food donations from each business. 
  • You are encouraged to provide input on the conditions of your written agreements with businesses, such as types of food you do and don’t accept, to ensure they align with the needs of your organization. 

Track and report

  • Track donations and maintain written documentation including:
    • Types of food to be received or collected
    • Name, address, and contact information for each business donating food to your organization.
    • Quantity in pounds (lbs.) of the food collected, transported, and/or received from each business per month.   
    • Total pounds of food your organization recovers each calendar year
    • Document actions taken to increase food recovery capacity (ie – purchasing new trucks, hiring new staff, purchasing additional refrigeration storage)
  • Keep records on-site of written agreements with food programs for review and compliance inspection and monitoring by applicable City agencies. See the Model Food Recovery Agreement as an example template.
  • Track donations with the Donation Tracking Template
  • Report food recovery data to the City and County of San Francisco annually – More info coming soon!

Why recover food?

Reduce food waste: Californians send 11.2 billion pounds of food to landfills each year, in many cases, the food is still fresh enough to have been recovered to feed people in need. 

Feed people: While billions of meals go to waste, millions of Californians don’t have enough to eat. In San Francisco, one in four people do not know where their next meal is coming from.

Save costs and earn tax benefits: When you donate food, you may be eligible for a tax deduction. You may also find that your Recology bill or food purchasing costs decrease, if you reduce your surplus food generation. 

Protect the environment: Food waste in landfills is a powerful contributor to climate change due to the greenhouse gases it releases. 

For questions, additional information, and resources please contact the SF Environment Food Recovery Team