Use Industry Standards

RecyclingWorks has compiled industry data from published reports and studies, which can be used as guidance for facilities with little to no current food waste diversion program in place. The purpose of this tool is to help businesses and institutions in Massachusetts determine whether it is likely they are subject to the Massachusetts Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban. Actual food waste generated can vary widely from one business to another. If your business is currently tracking or diverting food waste, you may dispose of less food waste than indicated by the industry averages.

We will continue to refine and add metrics as updated or improved data becomes available. This tool was last updated in May 2018. View a list of the sources used in developing our food waste estimation guide.

Individual results may vary depending on preparation methods and materials, reuse of leftovers, and type of food service. For example, a tray-less dining policy reduces post-consumer food waste in cafeterias compared with traditional tray service. In addition, the use of a garbage disposal, or similar technology, in a kitchen reduces the overall amount of food waste going into the trash.

Food Waste Estimation

Click on the industry sector listed below that best fits your business. For many sectors, you will see several methods of estimating food waste, based on factors such as how many meals you serve, how many employees you have, or how much total waste your business generates. Cross-check different methods to get the best estimate of how much food waste your business may generate.

Assisted Living Facilities

Colleges and Universities

Corporate Cafeterias

Correctional Facilities

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Hospitals

Lodging and Hotels

Restaurants

Supermarkets and Grocery Stores

Venues and Events

 

Assisted Living Facilities

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for nursing homes.

If you serve 3,334 meals in one week, then:

0.6 lbs/meal * 3,334 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you serve 10,000 lbs of food in one week, then:

20% of food served * 10,000 lbs served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you have 159 beds, then:

1.8 lbs/bed/day * 159 beds = 286 lbs/day

286 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,002 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you have 219 employees, then:

475 lbs/employee/year * 219 employees = 104,025 lbs/year

104,025 lbs/year / 52 weeks/year = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per year

 

1 This metric uses beds as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the nursing home by residents, staff, and visitors.

2 This metric uses the equivalent number of full-time employees as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the nursing home by residents, staff, and visitors.

 
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Colleges and Universities

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for colleges and universities.

If you have 734 students living on campus, then:

141.75 lbs/student/year * 734 residential students = 104,045 lbs/year

104,045 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,001 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you have 2,751 students living off campus, then:

37.8 lbs/student/year * 2,751 non-residential students = 103,988 lbs/year

103,988 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

Note: The equations based on number of students (above) assume a steady level of food consumption over 52 weeks.  However this may not always be the case, so it is recommended that you adjust the equations above to best fit your operations.

1 This metric assumes 405 meals per residential student per year.

2 This metric assumes 108 meals per non-residential student per year.
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Corporate Cafeterias

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for corporate cafeterias.

If you serve 3,200 meals in one week, then:

.625 lbs/meal * 4,000 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

*.625 lbs/meal is the median of EPA Corporate Cafeterias average estimate (range .5-.75 lbs/meal).

 
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Correctional Facilities

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for correctional facilities.

If you house 286 inmates, then:

1 lbs/inmate/day * 286 inmates = 286 lbs/day

286 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,002 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you fill 2 trash dumpsters at 4 cubic yards twice per week, then:

450 lbs * (2 trash dumpsters * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 7,200 lbs of total disposed waste/week

7,200 lbs * 30% of total waste = 2,160 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 
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Elementary and Secondary Schools

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for elementary and secondary schools.

Note: RecyclingWorks now provides separate per-student estimates for elementary, middle, and high schools based on data from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The elementary and middle school per student estimates are higher than the .5 lbs/student/week metric from an earlier version of this tool. Anecdotal observations suggest that a combination of changes in the National School lunch program, shorter lunch periods, and more frequent breakfast in the classroom offerings have contributed to more food waste, particularly in elementary schools. When estimating food waste at your school, also take into account whether your school has a culinary education program, a centralized kitchen serving other locations, or serves a high percentage of students school lunch (rather than lunch brought from home), as these may result in more food waste.

 

If you have 1,770 elementary school students, then:

1.13 lbs/student/week * 1,770 students = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you have 2,740 middle school students, then:

.73 lbs/student/week * 2,740 students = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you have 5,715 high school students, then:

.35 lbs/student/week * 5,715 students = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 4 cubic yards 3 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster *4 yd3 * 3 pickups/week) = 5,400 lbs of total disposed waste/week

5,400 lbs * 45% of total waste = 2,430 lbs/week = 1.2 tons of food waste in one week

 

1 The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 

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Hospitals

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for hospitals.

If you serve 3,334 meals in one week, then:

0.6 lbs/meal * 3,334 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you serve 6,667 lbs of food in one week, then:

30% of food served * 6,667 lbs served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you have 84 beds, then:

3.42 lbs/bed/day * 84 beds = 287 lbs/day

287 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,009 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you have 360 employees, then:

290 lbs/employee/year * 360 employees = 104,400 lbs/year

104,400 lbs/year / 52 weeks/year = 2,008 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per year

 

1 This metric uses beds as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the hospital by patients, staff, and visitors. 

2 This metric uses the equivalent number of full-time employees for the entire hospital as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the hospital by patients, staff, and visitors.

*290 lbs/employee/ year is CalRecycle’s 2014 estimate.

 
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Lodging and Hotels

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for lodging and hotels.

Note: Hotels that do not provide food service will typically generate less food waste than indicated in the below metrics. Therefore, you may choose to change these measures to best represent your operations.

If you have 286 guests per day, then:

1 lbs/guest/day * 286 guests = 286 lbs/day

286 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,002 lbs/week = 1 ton of organic waste per week

 

If you have 301 guest rooms, then:

345.64 lbs/room/year * 301 rooms = 104,037 lbs/year

104,037 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,001 lbs/week = 1 ton of organic waste per week

 

If you fill 2 trash dumpsters at 4 cubic yards twice per week, then:

450 lbs * (2 trash dumpsters * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 7,200 lbs of total disposed waste/week

7,200 lbs * 36% of total waste = 2,592 lbs/week = 1.3 tons of food waste in one week

 

If you have 80 employees, then:

1,305 lbs/employee/year * 80 employees = 104,400 lbs/year

104,400 lbs/year / 52 weeks/year = 2,008 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per year

 

1 The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

2 This metric uses the equivalent number of full-time employees for the entire hotel as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the hotel by staff, guests, and other patrons.

Tip: The Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA) has developed a Green Lodging Calculator that estimates environmental benefits and financial savings from various sustainable practices tailored to the hospitality industry.

Food Waste Estimation

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Restaurants

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for restaurants.

Note: RecyclingWorks now breaks out all forms of estimating food waste by the NAICS code definition for limited and full-service restaurants. Limited-Service Restaurants (NAICS 722211) are defined as “establishments primarily engaged in providing food services … where patrons generally order or select items and pay before eating.” Full-Service Restaurants (NAICS 722511) are defined as “establishments primarily engaged in providing food services to patrons who order and are served while seated … and pay after eating. Actual food waste generation rates within each of these categories can vary widely. Factors such as whether your establishment prepares food from scratch, offers buffet-style dining, or has mostly patrons that eat-in can contribute to higher amounts of food waste. Take into account your restaurant’s operations when considering which metric to use.

 

If you are a full-service restaurant serving 2,000 meals in one week, then:

1 lbs/meal * 2,000 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you are a limited-service restaurant serving 4,000 meals in one week, then:

.5 lbs/meal * 4,000 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you are a full-service restaurant with 35 employees, then:

3,000 lbs/employee/year * 35 full-time employees = 105,000 lbs food waste generated/year

105,000 lbs/year / 52 weeks/year = 2,019 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you are a limited-service restaurant with 48 employees, then:

2,200 lbs/employee/year * 48 full-time employees = 105,600 lbs food waste generated/year

105,600 lbs/year / 52 weeks/year = 2,031 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you are a full-service restaurant and fill 1 trash dumpster at 4 cubic yards 2 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 3,600 lbs of total disposed waste/week

3,600 lbs * 66% of total waste = 2,376 lbs/week = 1.2 tons of food waste in one week

 

If you are a fast-food restaurant and fill 1 trash dumpster at 4 cubic yards 3 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster * 4 yd3 * 3 pickups/week) = 5,400 lbs of total disposed waste/week

5,400 lbs * 51% of total waste = 2,754 lbs/week = 1.4 tons of food waste in one week

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 
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Supermarkets and Grocery Stores

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for supermarkets and grocery stores.

If you have 35 full-time employees, then:

3,000 lbs/employee/year * 35 full-time employees = 105,000 lbs food waste generated/year

105,000 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 2,019 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 4 cubic yards 2 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 3,600 lbs of total disposed waste/week

3,600 lbs * 63% of total waste = 2,268 lbs/week = 1.1 tons of food waste in one week

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 
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Venues and Events

Click here for a printable, fill-in version of this Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban threshold estimation guide for venues and events.

For resorts and conference properties:

If you have 476 seats, then:

0.6 lbs/seat/day * 476 seats = 286 lbs/day

286 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 2,002 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste per week

 

If you serve 2,000 meals in one week, then:

1 lbs/meal * 2,000 meals served/week = 2,000 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

For large venues and events 1:

If you have 4,450 visitors in one week, then:

0.45 lbs/visitor * 4,450 visitors = 2,002 lbs = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 6 cubic yards 3 times per week, then:

450 lbs * (1 trash dumpster * 6 yd3 * 3 pickups/week) = 8,100 lbs of total disposed waste/week

8,100 lbs * 25% of total waste = 2,025 lbs/week = 1 ton of food waste in one week

 

1 Large venues and events include convention centers, stadiums, theme parks, performing art centers, movie theaters, fairgrounds, special event sites (e.g. parades, sporting events, festivals), and miscellaneous venues (e.g. museums, zoos).

 

Note: The equation based on weight of disposed waste (above) assumes a weight of 450 lbs/yd3 for mixed commercial waste materials.  It was derived using the median value of EPA’s standard conversion factor:  1yd3 of commercial-industrial waste = 300 to 600 lbs.  You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

 
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Sources for Business Sector Estimates

California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). Business Group Waste Stream Calculator. 2016
https://www2.calrecycle.ca.gov/WasteCharacterization/BusinessGroupCalculator

Cascadia Consulting Group. Waste Disposal and Diversion Findings for Selected Industry Groups. No. 341-2006-0006. California Environmental Protection Agency, June 2006. http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/publications/Documents/Disposal/34106006.pdf.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Waste Reduction and Recycling Guide for Florida Correctional Facilities. Kessler Consulting, Inc., Jan. 2004. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/quick_topics/publications/shw/recycling/InnovativeGrants/  IGyear4/finalprisonguide-72ppi.pdf.

Food Waste Reduction Alliance. Analysis of U.S. Food Waste Among Food Manufacturers, Retailers, and Wholesalers. BSR, Apr. 2013. http://www.foodwastealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/FWRA_BSR_Tier2_FINAL.pdf.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Identification, Characterization, and Mapping of Food Waste and Food Waste Generators In Massachusetts. Draper/Lennon, Inc., Sept. 2002. http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/recycle/priorities/foodwast.pdf.

Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Interview by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 2013.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Estimating Quantities and Types of Food Waste at the City Level. October 2017. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/food-waste-city-level-report.pdf 

Nichols, P., C. Porter, L. Hammond, and B. Arjmandi. “Food Intake May Be Determined by Plate Waste in a Retirement Living Center.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102.8 (2002): 1142-144.

Northeast Waste Management Official’s Association (NEWMOA). From Behavior Change to Environmental Outcomes In Sustainable Hospitality: Metrics, Formulas, Variables, & Assumptions. June 2011. http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/projects/hospitality/   From_Behavior_Change_to_Environmental_Outcomes.pdf.

ReFED. A Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste by 20%. Report: Technical Appendix. 2016. https://www.refed.com/downloads/ReFED_Technical_Appendix.pdf

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Food Waste Management Cost Calculator. 2009. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-01/foodcost3.xls

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Food Scrap Generator Database Calculations. May 2014. http://anrmaps.vermont.gov/websites/Organics/documents/FoodScrapGeneration_Calculations-Final.pdf

Williams, Peter G., and Karen Walton. “Plate Waste in Hospitals and Strategies for Change.” E-SPEN – The European E-journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism 6th Ser. 6 (2011).

WRAP. The Composition of Waste Disposed of by the UK Hospitality Industry. July 2011. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/The_Composition_of_Waste_Disposed_of_by_the_UK   _Hospitality_Industry_FINAL_JULY_2011_GP_EDIT.54efe0c9.11675.pdf.

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