Massachusetts Announces Plan to Ban Commercial Food Waste

Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration on Wednesday announced a proposal to outlaw disposal of commercial food waste starting July 1, 2014, in a bid to help Massachusetts reach its goal of reducing the waste stream some 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

In conjunction with the proposed ban, the administration is providing $4 million in grants and low-interest loans for the construction of anaerobic digestion facilities, which convert food waste into renewable energy.

The ban would require any entity that disposes of at least one ton of organic waste per week to donate or re-purpose the useable food. Any remaining food waste would be shipped to an anaerobic digestion facility, a composting operation or an animal-feed operation. Residential food waste is not included in the ban.

Food waste and organics make up 20-25 percent of the current waste stream going to landfills and incinerators in the state.

“These policies and programs will continue the Patrick Administration’s commitment to growing the clean energy sector in Massachusetts, creating jobs and reducing emissions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, in a statement.

In addition to lowering the waste stream, diverting food waste to anaerobic digestion facilities creates value by reducing greenhouse gases, and by producing a byproduct that can be resold as fertilizer or animal bedding, said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell, in the statement.

“This commercial food waste ban provides one more example of the cost savings and environmental benefits that are available when we set a clean energy target and innovate solutions to achieve it,” said Massachusetts State Senator Marc Pacheco, who serves as chair of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and co-chairs the CSG/ERC Energy & Environment Committee.

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