Big Y produce collection2Restaurants generate a wide range of materials, including food waste, cardboard, paper, and food and beverage containers, all of which have well-established recycling markets.  Food waste is typically the largest single component of waste generated by a restaurant and diverting food waste from disposal greatly reduces disposal weight and can reduce disposal and overall operational costs.  There are a number of ways that restaurants can manage leftover food, including food donation, collection for animal feed, composting, anaerobic digestion or processing through on-site systems.  Implementing any recycling and composting programs at restaurants can help provide a sustainable marketing edge and avoid waste ban compliance issues.

Waste Ban Compliance Tips for Restaurants

To help restaurants comply with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Waste Bans, RecyclingWorks developed the following sector-specific tip sheets, available in both English and Spanish:

PDFWaste Ban Compliance Tips for Restaurants [English] 

PDFConsejos para Restaurantes para Cumplir con la Prohibición de Desechos [Español] 

Reducing Packaging Waste

Takeout, delivery, or grab-and-go dining options often generate large quantities of packaging and other single-use materials that may not be accepted for recycling through a typical single stream program in Massachusetts. Our Guide for Reducing Waste From Restaurant Takeout and Delivery Meals offers tips to help your restaurant save money, eliminate necessary waste, and purchase takeout materials that can be reused, recycled, or composted.

Composting Tool Kit

PDF For guidance on starting a food waste diversion program at a restaurant, see our Restaurant Food Waste Diversion Guide.

Restaurant Recycling & Composting Case Studies

Gardner Ale House: Learn how RecyclingWorks helped Gardner Ale House establish a successful program to divert food waste to an off-site pig farm in advance of the commercial organics ban.

PDFGardner Ale House Written Case Study: Learn more about food scraps diversion in Lenox.

Town of Lenox: Learn how the Lenox Environmental Committee and RecyclingWorks helped eight small restaurants start diverting food scraps for composting.

PDFTown of Lenox Written Case Study: Learn more about food scraps diversion in Lenox.

PDFNorthampton Brewery:  Learn about Northampton Brewery’s commitment to a low environmental impact and the measures that allow them to divert 300 tons of food waste annually.


Clio Case Study:  Read about the steps the Clio Restaurant in Boston, MA takes to divert nearly 50,000 lbs of food waste annually!



Learn more about the following business sectors:


RecyclingWorks is especially interested in helping restaurants establish food waste composting programs in the coming months.  Restaurant owners and managers are encouraged to call or email the hotline for guidance and assistance: (888) 254-5524, or