Blog Post

On November 9, RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts co-hosted a Food Sustainability Symposium in Easthampton, MA, focusing on effective food waste solutions for businesses and institutions.

Symposium attendees learned from their peers about different strategies for cost effectively diverting food scraps and surplus food from disposal. The Daily Hampshire Gazette featured the Food Sustainability Symposium in Easthampton in the article, Wasted food: better business using cows, plates and a digester.

The keynote speaker for the event was Garett DiStefano, Director of Residential Dining and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst). He hit the nail on the head when he says that “if you don’t waste it, you won’t need to compost it”. The US Environmental Protection Agency Food Recovery Hierarchy ranks source reduction as the highest priority for preventing the disposal of food.

DiStefano explains that UMass Amherst has found success encouraging students to take only what they want and to eat everything on their plate. The university aims to accomplish this by serving appropriate portions of healthy, delicious foods that remind students of home-cooked meals. These efforts are paying off in terms of student satisfaction; in July 2017, the Princeton Review named UMass Amherst Number 1 in Campus Dining for the second year in a row. In fact, more than 70% of entering UMass Amherst students note that the dining was an important secondary factor in determining where to attend college.

Check out the RecyclingWorks video and written case study highlighting source reduction, food donation, and composting of food scraps at UMass Amherst. The newest RecyclingWorks instructional video on kitchen source separation best practices also features UMass Amherst.

Here are some additional highlights from the other Symposium panelists:

  • Stop & Shop installed an anaerobic digester at its distribution center in Freetown, MA which converts expired food to biogas which the business can use to power the facility. The grocery store chain also donates both non-perishable and fresh food to local food banks.
  • Log Cabin Restaurant reduces waste and builds operational efficiency through smart purchasing decisions and efforts to reduce packaging materials.
  • Brew Practitioners diverts food waste by sending spent grain to a local farm for cow feed.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts provides resources for businesses and institutions such as guidance on food donation and source separation of food scraps in commercial kitchens. In addition, RecyclingWorks is developing best management practices on source reduction of food waste. To speak to a recycling and food waste diversion expert, call the RecyclingWorks hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at