Blog Post

On November 10, RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) hosted the Fall 2020 WasteWise Forum Webinar in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This year’s fall forum focused on strategies for businesses and institutions that help maximize food waste diversion, with presentations from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and Fruit Center Marketplace. Read on for a summary of the Forum, and visit the RecyclingWorks WasteWise webpage to view all of the presentations and a full webinar recording.

Click the image above to view the full webinar recording

MassDEP – Opportunities to Provide Input

The forum began with a welcome from John Fischer, Deputy Division Director for Solid Waste Materials Management at MassDEP. Fischer discussed the proposed amendments to the existing statewide waste ban regulations, which include:

  • Lowering the threshold for the commercial organics ban so that it would apply to businesses generating one-half ton or more of food material per week. It currently applies to businesses generating one ton or more of food material per week.
  • Adding mattresses and textiles as materials that are banned from disposal in Massachusetts.

Public comments will be accepted on these proposed changes through December 4, 2020 at 5:00PM. Click here to learn more. 

Fischer also spoke about the MassDEP Reduce & Reuse Working Group, open to anyone interested in providing input on source reduction, reuse, and repair strategy in Massachusetts, and/or keeping informed of new policy and program developments. The next R&R Working Group virtual meeting is scheduled for December 16, 2020 at 10:00am and will allow for a deeper dive into five different priority materials. Click here to register for the next meeting and to access materials from previous meetings.

U.S. EPA – Food Recovery Challenge and National Recycling Strategy

Christine Beling, Project Engineer for U.S. EPA Region 1, gave a brief overview of the U.S. EPA WasteWise and Food Recovery Challengeprograms, recognizing Signature Breads in Chelsea and Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School in Wellesley Hills as 2019 National Food Recovery Challenge Award winners.

Building on their 2019 National Framework for Advancing the U.S. Recycling System, the U.S. EPA recently released a Draft National Recycling Strategy to create a stronger, more resilient, and cost-effective U.S. municipal solid waste recycling system. The draft strategy, which is available for public comment through December 4, 2020, is organized under three strategic objectives: reducing contamination in recycling, increasing processing efficiency, and improving markets.

RecyclingWorks Program – Virtual Services and New Resources

Center for EcoTechnology Environmental Specialist Abbey Massaro described how the RecyclingWorks program is continuing to support MA businesses and institutions safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, RecyclingWorks staff have been conducting facility walkthroughs remotely, providing virtual training presentations, and developing new web resources. RecyclingWorks also recently published materials guidance for textiles and mattresses, and compiled information about different collection equipment for trash, recycling, and food waste. Finally, here are a few examples of newly developed RecyclingWorks resources that can be posted as signs around a facility, used as training tools, and shared online:

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA)

Elena Traister, Professor of Environmental Studies and Coordinator of Campus Sustainability, described the waste diversion programs that the college’s sustainability committee promotes and oversees. MCLA operates a successful single stream recycling program, diverts electronic waste, recycles mattresses, organizes a “Donation Station” each semester, and has a robust organics diversion program. Here are a few items Traister noted as keys to success and tips for others:

  • Thus far, it has been effective to train new maintainers primarily through verbal instruction and shadowing with seasoned staff. MCLA is considering developing more written training materials as the number of programs expands.
  • Conducting ‘bin’ audits can help identify any needs for additional equipment or labeling on receptacles. These audits can be conducted safely while maintaining distance during the pandemic.

Renee Royal, Dining Services Production Manager, gave an overview of MCLA’s food waste diversion programs at the college’s main dining hall and two on-demand markets for grab-and-go foods. Aramark, MCLA’s food service provider, uses LeanPath technology to track and prevent food waste in the kitchen, which reduced the college’s food waste by 30% in one year. Royal discussed their back-of-house food scraps collection program, noting that she uses photos to train staff to spot contamination before consolidating the material in carts outside.

Fruit Center Marketplace

The Forum’s final speaker, Michael Mignosa, Director of Fruit Center Marketplace, shared an overview of the market’s robust waste diversion programs at their Hingham and Milton locations. Mignosa discussed how the company’s switch from single stream to dual-stream recycling, and creativity in navigating contracts with multiple service providers, has helped them keep their recycling and trash costs low while improving material quality.

Fruit Center Marketplace has incorporated strategies across the food recovery hierarchy to cut down on waste. They incorporate “ugly” produce in prepared foods, partner with local food pantries to donate shelf-stable items and baked goods, including more than 200 loaves of bread each month, and partner with Black Earth Compost to divert food scraps, floral trimmings, and soiled paper products. Mignosa spoke about the importance of verbal training for the success of their programs, and noted that potential next steps for waste diversion include film plastic recycling and expanding food donation for prepared meals.

Visit the RecyclingWorks WasteWise webpage to view all of the 2020 Fall WasteWise Forum presentations and a full recording of the webinar. To learn more about the national WasteWise program or to join WasteWise, please contact Janet Bowen at, or visit the EPA’s website. By registering, you will also be enrolled in the Massachusetts WasteWise program.

RecyclingWorks is currently offering remote technical assistance, including virtual site visits, evaluating bin placement and hauler contracts, customizing waste bin signage, reviewing training and educational materials, and delivering presentations to facility staff. Call the RecyclingWorks hotline, (888) 254-5525, or email us at to get started.