Massachusetts has banned commercial operations from sending food waste to landfills as part of its climate action plan.
As of October 1, 2014, (only 3 months later than originally hoped) any entity that generates at least one ton of organic material per week has to either donate or re-purpose useable food and send the rest to a biogas facility, where it will be converted to clean energy or composted.
The ban will help the state meet its twin goals of reducing waste disposal to landfills and increasing clean energy production.
It affects about 1700 businesses and institutions, including supermarkets, colleges, universities, hotels, convention centers, hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and food service and processing companies.
Another boon from the ban is the growth of biogas plants across the state, needed to manage all the incoming organic material. MassDEP is working to site them on farms, wastewater treatment plants and other public and private locations by providing technical assistance and up to $1 million in grants. Currently 6 of Massachusetts’ wastewater treatment plants have anaerobic digesters capable of transforming effluent from on-site food waste digesters to clean energy or compost. The use of municipal sewer systems to transport digested food waste offers the added benefit of taking excess trucks off the roads which helps to reduce pollution and save additional costs.
We hope MassDEP can convert more wastewater treatment facilities to anaerobic digesters before October 1st.