Yesterday, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) released a new report highlighting the positive economic benefits of reducing food waste. This report studied the effects of the Massachusetts Commercial Food Waste Ban, which prohibits businesses and institutions that generate one ton or more of food waste per week from disposing of that waste in the trash. About 1,700 facilities such as universities, supermarkets, food processors, hotels, conference centers, and restaurants are subject to the ban. This ban, which went into effect in October of 2014, was the nation’s first requiring commercial entities to divert wasted food from disposal via donation, animal feed, anaerobic digestion, or composting.
The study, conducted by ICF International, Inc. of Cambridge, compared jobs and economic activity before and after the ban’s implementation among food waste haulers, composting sites, anaerobic digestion facilities, animal feed operations, and food rescue organizations.
The report found that in 2016, organic waste haulers, organic waste processors, and food rescue organizations supported more than 900 jobs and produced about $175 million in economic activity. This is a 150 percent increase in jobs in these sectors from 2010, and the surveyed businesses project another 50 percent in additional job growth this year.
Currently, organics haulers collect an estimated 270,000 annually in food materials, up from an estimated 100,000 tons prior to the ban. Organics haulers and processors are investing significantly in their facilities and equipment to support additional growth with over $70 million in investment planned.
The Commonwealth’s effort to support diversion of wasted food from disposal also includes technical assistance and grants. The MassDEP’s RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program provides recycling assistance to business and institutions by helping these entities start or improve diversion programs for wasted food and recyclable materials. In 2015, RecyclingWorks conducted a stakeholder engagement process to produce Food Donation Guidance that assists businesses and institutions interested in establishing food donation programs.
Meanwhile, grants such as the MassDEP’s Recycling Business Development Grant are helping expand processing infrastructure for diverted food materials.
See the full MassDEP report for more details on the analysis of the economic impacts of the food waste ban.
RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts is a recycling assistance program for businesses and institutions. If you would like assistance with starting or expanding a program to divert wasted food from disposal, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.