Blog Post

Anaerobic digestion infrastructure has expanded in Massachusetts, creating an important outlet for commercial organic waste. One company, Vanguard Renewables, operates five anaerobic digesters on dairy farms across the state, which provide opportunities for supermarkets, food manufacturers, restaurants, and other businesses to divert their food material from disposal and comply with the Massachusetts commercial organics waste ban. NPR and PBS News Hour recently reported on how one on-farm anaerobic digestion facility processes approximately 100 tons of food waste per day, generating both energy and material that can be used as a soil amendment.

At the Whole Foods Shrewsbury location, inedible food scraps, bones, fats, and greases are combined in an on-site Grind2Energy system that turns the material into a slurry. The slurried material is then transported directly to Vanguard’s anaerobic digester on Bar-Way Farm in Deerfield for processing.

In addition to Whole Foods, the Vanguard facility on Bar-Way Farm sources whey from a nearby Cabot Creamery, organic waste from a local brewery and juice plant, as well as food scraps from a number of other businesses. The methane produced in the process is captured to produce electricity; a small percentage of this electricity powers the farm and the surplus goes back into the electricity grid. The farm also uses the liquid byproduct as a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

For a full list of Massachusetts operations that accept food materials for anaerobic digestion, composting, or animal feed, see MassDEP’s website.  RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) can help your business establish a food waste diversion program, connect with organics haulers and processors, and comply with the Massachusetts commercial organics waste ban. To speak with a food waste expert and learn more about our no-cost technical assistance, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at