On November 14, UMass Dartmouth hosted RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks), the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the 2019 Fall WasteWise Forum. This year’s fall forum focused on reducing contamination in recycling collection programs and using technology to reduce food waste. Below is a summary of the day’s highlights.
Welcome and Updates
The forum began with a welcome from Shannon Finning, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UMass Dartmouth. Finning was followed by brief presentations from RecyclingWorks, the MassDEP, and the EPA. Click on each presenter’s name to view their presentation slides.
- John Majercak, President of the Center for EcoTechnology (CET), and Lauren Potter, CET Program Lead, discussed key features of the RecyclingWorks program, such as free technical assistance, and highlighted new resources such as Single Stream Recycling Guidance, Business and Institutional Furniture and Office Equipment Reuse Guidance, and Tips for Waste Reduction at Workplace Events.
- Stephanie Cooper, Deputy Commissioner for Policy & Planning at the MassDEP, provided an update on the Solid Waste Master Plan for 2020-2030, discussing the MassDEP’s goal to reduce annual solid waste disposal by 30%, or 1.7 million tons, by 2030. Stephanie encouraged businesses and institutions to take the America Recycles Day Pledge, as well as to sign up as a Recycle Smart MA partner. An important takeaway from Stephanie’s presentation was that the single best way we can help the recycling market is to reduce contamination.
- Dennis Deziel, Regional Administrator for US EPA Region 1, described the work the EPA is doing to galvanize private and public organizations to reduce waste in order to achieve the EPA’s goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. Dennis highlighted the WasteWise program, which is designed to help member organizations set their own goals, plan their own programs, and implement their own strategies to reduce waste. Each year, the EPA recognizes WasteWise partners demonstrating exemplary sustainability and waste prevention activities. Dennis recognized UMass Dartmouth for winning the 2018 WasteWise College/University Partner of the Year.
Presentations on Food Waste Reduction Using Technology
Next, the conversation moved towards examples of businesses utilizing technological solutions to reduce wasted food.
- Matt Taylor, Boloco’s Chief Operating Officer, presented on the fast-casual restaurant chain’s effort to reduce food waste at their eight locations in the Boston area. Matt described the challenges with reducing wasted food from their burrito production line, which uses fresh ingredients that they prefer not to reuse the next day. In 2017, Boloco teamed up with the food rescue app Food For All to notify customers when they are offering discounted meals that would have ended up in the trash if not served that day. Before partnering with Food For All, a typical Boloco store would generate around 50 pounds of wasted food each day. Locations that are using this technology have reduced wasted food by nearly 50%, while also providing customers with affordable meal options and donating proceeds from the additional food sales to the Greater Boston Food Bank.
- Lauren Betz, Head of Customer Success at Food For All, expanded this conversation by providing a broader view of how the company is creating a marketplace for leftover food. The app is customizable for a variety of food service establishments including restaurants, colleges and universities, and supermarkets. Food For All currently works with 250 businesses in Boston and New York City, and has rescued over 120,000 pounds of food to date.
UMass Dartmouth Waste Diversion Programs
After a networking break that sparked lively conversations throughout the venue, representatives from UMass Dartmouth discussed the university’s waste reduction efforts.
- Nancy Wiseman and Linda Farias of UMass Dartmouth Dining Services described how they employ strategies across the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy to reduce food waste on campus. Here are just a few of the initiatives discussed in their presentation:
- UMass Dartmouth Dining Services employs source reduction strategies, such as daily production sheets, through Compass’ Webtrition program to predict production requirements based on menu engineering and prior student/staff consumption.
- The Green Navigators, a group of student volunteers dedicated to sustainability on campus, helped implement “Project Clean Plate” in 2017. This initiative is aimed at raising awareness of the impact of post-consumer food waste by measuring plate waste, saving about 15,000 pounds of food each semester.
- In 2017, the Green Navigator student volunteers started packaging leftover food into meals for biweekly delivery to an on-campus food pantry as part of the Meals with Dignity program.
- UMass Dartmouth uses a food pulper to reduce the volume of its post-consumer food waste, which is then hauled to a local commercial composting site. Pre-consumer food scraps are collected in the cafeteria kitchens and sent to a local chicken farm. Additionally, a local farmer picks up coffee grinds and shredded paper for composting.
- Jamie Jacquart, Assistant Director of Campus Sustainability and Residential Initiatives at UMass Dartmouth, presented on some of the reuse and recycling initiatives on campus. Here are a few highlights from Jamie’s presentation:
- Conducting waste audits to identify recycling contamination in residential and academic buildings helps evaluate the effectiveness of recycling program messaging and training. This feedback can inform decisions to alter signage or target a specific area for recycling presentations and trainings.
- The New2U program collects items from students at campus move out and resells them at highly discounted prices at the fall yard sale. Unsold items are donated to non-profits.
- Unwanted clothing can be donated through several Bay State Textiles drop boxes on campus, or swapped at clothing swaps at the end of the semester.
One key point UMass Dartmouth representatives emphasized is the importance of clear and persistent messaging around food waste diversion and preventing recycling contamination. As Jamie said, “The process to reduce recycling contamination is a culture change that takes time, and we need to sell the message on a regular basis.”
Visit the RecyclingWorks WasteWise webpage to view all of the 2019 Fall Waste Wise Forum presentations and a full recording of the webinar broadcast.
To learn more about the national WasteWise program or to join WasteWise, please contact Janet Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the EPA’s website. By registering, you will also be enrolled in the Massachusetts WasteWise program.
RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts is a recycling assistance program designed to help businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and composting opportunities. Call the RecyclingWorks hotline, (888) 254-5525 or email us at email@example.com to get started.