Many types of businesses and institutions generate food scraps at their facilities. Larger food-centered businesses like supermarkets, catering operations, and food processors typically have large amounts of food scraps and can benefit significantly by diverting this material from disposal. In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection established a commercial organics waste ban, which went into effect on October 1, 2014. Under this ban, businesses or institutions that generate one ton or more of food material per week for disposal must divert that material from disposal to other uses.
Fortunately, there are many options for how to make better use of food and divert food scraps from disposal. These include up front source reduction, donation and food rescue, use of on-site systems, and off-site uses including animal feed, composting, and anaerobic digestion. This page serves as a hub to provide links to further resources and guidance on how to reduce food waste in your business or institution, and how to divert wasted food from disposal in the trash.
Key Food Waste Links
One of the first steps you should take is to estimate your food waste using the RecyclingWorks Food Waste Estimation Guide.
To learn more about the full range of options for complying with the commercial food material disposal ban, visit our Commercial Organics Waste Ban page.
Reducing food waste at the source is the best way to reduce wasted food from both an environmental and economic perspective.
Donating food to feed those in need is also an excellent social, environmental, and economic outcome for using food that is still high quality and safe to serve.
In addition, food scraps can be sent to farms or other operations as animal feed, composted, or sent to digestion facilities. For more information on these options, see our page on how to comply with the organics waste ban. In order to send food scraps to any of these outlets, it is important that the food materials are separated and collected in a way that controls any nuisance concerns and ensures that contaminants such as plastic or rubber gloves are separated. For more guidance on how to properly separate and collect wasted food, see our page on source separation.
In addition to our technical assistance for businesses and institutions that generate food scraps, RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts also provides assistance to help compost operations improve their operations. For more information, please visit our compost site technical assistance web page.
Food Waste Case Studies
RecyclingWorks has helped many businesses and institutions to implement food waste management programs. Read some of their stories below.
Learn how The Lenox Hotel has maintained a successful food waste diversion program, donating over 80 meals per month and diverting 312,000 pounds of food scraps for composting each year. See the previous Lenox Hotel Case Study (2014) to learn more about program implementation.
Learn about food donation programs at the Medford Whole Foods and the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.
Food Donation Case Study: Read more about the successful donation programs at Whole Foods in Medford and the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.
Learn about UMass Amherst’s food recovery efforts across the food recovery hierarchy, including source reduction, donation, and composting.
UMass Amherst Case Study: Lean more about source reduction, food donation, and composting of food scraps from UMass Amherst.
UMass Amherst is also featured in RecyclingWorks’ instructional video on Source Separation Best Management Practices.
Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel
Learn about how the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel established a food donation program with help from RecyclingWorks and community partners.
Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel Case Study: Learn more about the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel’s food waste diversion and food donation program.
Boston Public Market
Learn how Boston Public Market, with the help of RecyclingWorks, donates surplus food and compost food scraps.
Boston Public Market Case Study: Learn more about food donation and composting of food scraps from Boston Public Market.
Town of Lenox
Learn how the Lenox Environmental Committee and RecyclingWorks helped eight small restaurants start diverting food scraps for composting.
Town of Lenox Case Study: Learn more about food scraps diversion in Lenox.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Massachusetts College of Art and Design Written Case Study: Learn more about the food waste diversion program at MassArt.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design Case Study: Learn more about the food waste diversion program at MassArt.
Gardner Ale House
Learn how RecyclingWorks helped Gardner Ale House establish a successful program to divert food scraps to an off-site pig farm in advance of the commercial organics ban.
Gardner Ale House Case Study: Gardner Ale House in diverts over 70% of its waste by composting and recycling.
America’s Food Basket Supermarkets
Learn how America’s Food Basket stores worked with CERO, an employee-owned cooperative, and RecyclingWorks to implement a successful composting program.
America’s Food Basket Case Study: Read about the ways America’s Food Basket supermarkets divert 4.5 tons per week of source separated organics, totaling 234 tons annually.
River Valley Market
Learn how River Valley Market saves money each week by reducing their waste stream through a robust composting program by watching this short YouTube video.
Worcester State University Composting
Learn how Worcester State University set up a successful off-site composting program to comply with the commercial organics waste ban and divert 60 tons of food waste annually.
Learn how Deerfield Academy diverts 80% of their waste through composting, donation, and other waste reduction efforts.
UMASS Amherst Blue Wall Cafe
Blue Wall Case Study: Learn how the University of Massachusetts diverted over 1200 pounds of food waste per day by implementing a composting program.
Boston University Dining Services
Boston University Case Study: Learn How Boston University grew their composting program from 4 tons of organic waste diverted in 2007 to over 850 tons in 2011.
Hilton Garden Inn, Devens, MA
Hilton Garden Inn Case Study: Learn about how the Hilton Garden Inn has implemented commercial composting in the Devens area.
Cooley Dickinson Hospital
Cooley Dickinson Case Study Learn the simple steps used by Cooley Dickinson Hospital used to expand their composting program and divert 60 tons of organic waste!
Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group Case Study: Learn how Blue Man Group expanded their recycling system, began food waste diversion and drastically reduced waste disposal costs while meeting internal green initiatives.
Big Y Supermarkets
Big Y Supermarket Case History: Learn how Big Y supermarkets saved $2.4 million in 2010 by diverting their organic materials and recyclables from disposal.
Northampton 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.
Harvard Case Study: Learn how Harvard University achieves 55% waste diversion, despite limited storage and dock space, by utilizing technology and student involvement.
Clio Case Study: Read about the steps the Clio Restaurant in Boston, MA takes to divert nearly 50,000 lbs of food waste annually!
Genzyme Case Study: Learn about the challenges and accomplishments of Genzyme Corporation’s food waste management program, and the steps they implemented to divert 6,620 lbs of food waste in the first year!
State Street Corporation
State Street Case Study: State Street Corporation decreased their total waste volume by 13% simply by implementing a pre-consumer composting program!
Learn about recycling other materials
For more information on other commonly recycled materials visit these pages:
- Bottles & Cans
- Construction Materials
- Fluorescent Lamps/Light Bulbs
- Single Stream
- Find out how to start or improve your own recycling program.
- Find a hauler or processor for recyclable materials in your area, search our Recycler Database.
- For more information on recycling in Massachusetts check out the MassDEP Factsheet: Where does it all go?
- Learn about Massachusetts Waste Bans.
- For answers to frequently asked questions about the commercial organics waste ban, see MassDEP’s guidance.
- Find out how you can purchase compost and other products produced from food scraps and leaves and yard waste in our Buying Recycled Products section.
- For guidance on starting a food scraps diversion program in the hospitality industry, see our Restaurant Food Waste Diversion Guide.
- Learn how to plan for waste reduction, recycling, and food waste diversion at your workplace events in our Tips for Waste Reduction at Workplace Events.
- Download the Mass DAR Composting Guide.
- Download the Composting Guide and Worksheet from the MassDEP and the Devens Eco-Efficiency Center.