Blog Post

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP’s) 2014 commercial organics disposal ban has already had a significant impact on the state’s diversion of food materials, as well as growth in the food waste marketplace. Since the ban was implemented, annual food waste diversion has increased by 180,000 tons, food donation has increased by 22%, and the number of entities that receive separate food waste collection has increased by 70%.

As recently reported by WBUR, the ban has successfully encouraged Massachusetts businesses and institutions to implement new food rescue strategies, from donation to source separation for composting and anaerobic digestion.

For example, Roche Brothers in West Roxbury prioritizes the second tier of the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy, feeding hungry people, through creative prepared dishes and a partnership with food rescue organization Lovin’ Spoonfuls. Throughout the week, Lovin’ Spoonfuls collects unsold, edible food and distributes it to shelters and addiction treatment centers in the area. The West Roxbury Roche Brothers location donates nearly 2,000 pounds of food in an average week, contributing to the increase in food rescue since the organics ban went into effect.

As another example, supermarket chain Stop & Shop converts its wasted food into energy at the company’s anaerobic digester in Freetown. The facility also utilizes depackaging technologies to separate food from the packaging to maximize recycling opportunities. The Stop & Shop distribution center provides a centralized location to collect the discarded food from over 200 stores, processing an average of 95 tons per day.

Finally, College of the Holy Cross in Worcester initiated its wasted food reduction strategies before the ban began, eliminating trays in the dining halls and using smaller serving portions. The college’s programs expanded when the ban went into effect, with additional emphasis on tracking purchasing patterns to reduce food waste at the source.

The MassDEP RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) program can help businesses and institutions comply with the organics waste ban through free technical assistance. RecyclingWorks online resources include sector-specific waste ban tip sheets for food manufacturers & distributors, restaurants, and retailers. To speak to a waste diversion expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at