Massachusetts Seeks to Reduce Food Waste from Landfills

May 7, 2012

DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell says that the plan currently under development to reduce the amount of food waste in landfills, which could eventually lead to banning commercial institutions from disposing organic waste in the conventional manner, is an attempt to get a return from a resource literally being thrown away.

Commissioner Kimmel spoke about recycling organic waste into products like fertilizers. The long-term plan also might include the installation of anaerobic digesters at locations around the state to generate electricity by burning methane generated by breaking down refuse. Commissioner Kimmel again…

Currently, Massachusetts only has one such digester, located in Rutland.

The DEP is working with the Massachusetts Food Association, since entering a Memorandum of Understanding in 2006, to divert organic waste from supermarkets and grocery stores to places like composting centers and pig farms.  Christopher Flynn, president of the Association said that before any commercial food waste bans are set, the state needs to work with businesses to develop a network and infrastructure able to collect the waste.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association, which has also been invited to discuss the plans with the DEP, is worried that if the system is not developed properly, some businesses would be left without a way to dispose of their waste right away, and that could lead to a series of public health issues. CEO and president of the MRA Peter Christie…

The Department of Environmental Protection is currently in the process of changing siting regulations to accommodate new waste recycling centers, such as making the way for more anaerobic digesters, identifying strategic locations, and developing the waste collection infrastructure before any waste bans are implemented.

A residential ban of food waste disposal could be considered in the future as the plan comes together.

Recently, the Mass DEP has also partnered with the Center For Eco Technology to provide resources for businesses across the state with recycling issues, which also aims to keep materials out of landfills.