Patrick Administration Kicks Off Statewide Commercial Food Waste Ban
By Massachusetts DEP
October 1, 2014
BOSTON – The Patrick Administration today celebrated the start of its first-in-the-nation, statewide commercial food waste ban. The ban will stimulate increased food donation, recycling and conversion of food waste into valuable products, including renewable energy and compost.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) today kicked off a Food Waste Ban “Full Harvest Tour” to demonstrate key components of the ban with events at a Hannaford’s Supermarket in Waltham and a dining facility on the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) campus. Other tour events will be held in Hadley on Friday, Gardner on Monday and Dartmouth and Wrentham on Tuesday.
“The food waste disposal ban is a critical piece of the Commonwealth’s strategy to reduce solid waste generation and support the production of clean, renewable energy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “The ban will help us reach our aggressive goals to reduce the waste stream by 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.”
The new ban, regulated by MassDEP, requires that any entity that disposes of at least one ton of organic material per week to donate or re-purpose the useable food. Any remaining food waste will be sent to composting or animal-feed operations or shipped to an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility, where it will be converted to clean energy.
“The food waste ban provides a win-win-win-win-win-win for residents and businesses in the Commonwealth,” said MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash. “It will reduce waste, save money on disposal costs, create renewable energy, cut emissions from fossil fuel use, produce a rich fertilizer for farm use, and grow jobs and stimulate the economy.”
The disposal ban affects approximately 1,700 businesses and institutions, including supermarkets, colleges and universities, hotels, convention centers, hospitals and nursing homes, large restaurants, and food service and processing companies. It does not affect residences.
The Full Harvest Tour first stopped today at the Hannaford’s Supermarket in Waltham, where still useable food is donated to the Lovin’ Spoonfuls food rescue organization, which distributes surplus food to food pantries and shelters. The supermarket industry in Massachusetts is a large-scale donator of food products to food pantries and shelters each year.
“Where possible, donating food, or upcycling food, is the best option available to the businesses affected by the commercial food waste ban,” said Lauren Palumbo, Chief Operating Officer for Lovin’ Spoonfuls of Boston. “Donation not only helps businesses comply with the ban, but also helps connect an entire demographic of our population that is food insecure, with access to fresh foods. Excess, close-dated and culled products can all be donated; while businesses traditionally view this product as ‘lossed’ product, there is incredible value in it. Donating culled fruits and vegetables, close-dated dairy and proteins, prepared items and other fresh foods helps connect the existing resources we have in the Commonwealth – feeding people, preserving the environment and reducing costs.”
“Since the early 1990s, the Massachusetts Food Association and the grocery industry have worked with MassDEP on organics diversion from the waste stream,” said Massachusetts Food Association Vice President Brian Houghton. “Today, we are prepared for the ban with nearly all grocery and supermarket locations already diverting their organics from the waste stream through donations of usable food to folks like Lovin’ Spoonfuls or to others for energy, compost or animal food operations.”
“Food is a precious resource that should not be wasted. So Hannaford is committed to moving toward Zero Waste,” said Waltham Hannaford Store Manager Jon Burnham. “Hannaford has a deep and ongoing relationship with community organizers to recover food and help fight hunger locally. We are working to improve the system’s capacity to recover food. Hannaford has instituted business practices that reduce the amount of food waste generated. Hannaford also follows the EPA food waste pyramid, working to ensure that food is used for the highest benefit possible.”
The second stop on the tour visited University Dining at Fox Hall on the campus of UMass Lowell. The university utilized technical assistance from MassDEP and the “RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts” program to implement its food waste diversion program on all organics produced from the campus’ food service operation. UMass Lowell generates approximately three tons of food waste each week during the school year and sends that material for composting at the Rocky Hill compost site in Saugus. A portion of the compost is brought back to campus and used in a variety of ways, including on university’s Community Garden, lawns and plantings. The effort is part of the work by UMass Lowell, which is a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
“UMass Lowell is committed to environmental stewardship and to fostering a collaborative culture that engages the entire university community and our stakeholders by leading by example in environmental excellence and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Richard Lemoine, the university’s director of Environmental and Emergency Management. “The implementation of a comprehensive ‘earth-to-earth’ food waste recovery program for all dining facilities on campus is a natural extension of our ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability through education, energy conservation, research, renewable energy and waste diversion.”
“We appreciate the Commonwealth’s leadership in promoting organics recycling,” said Casella Organics Business Development Manager Liza Casella. “Through our Casella Organics division, we have decades of experience recycling organics. Our goal in managing organics is to recover the highest and best value from the material. We enjoy working with our customers to imagine and implement solutions to help meet the Commonwealth’s diversion goals.”
MassDEP supports food donation, composting and animal-feed operations, but also encourages the use of anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities. An energy-creating biogas is produced when organics are processed in an enclosed AD tank where microbes break down the materials. The biogas can then be used to create heat for industrial processes, fed into a generator to create electricity or used in a combined heat and power system to produce both electricity and heat simultaneously.
The RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program helps businesses and institutions to comply with the waste ban by increasing their recycling efforts. RecyclingWorks provides free web-based resources and guidance, including a searchable service provider database, a phone hotline and direct technical assistance. Get more details on their programs here:www.recyclingworksma.com
For more information on the food waste and organics ban, check out MassDEP’s web site here: Food Waste Ban
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.