Blog Post

Jon Frandsen from PBS recently reported on how states are working to reduce food waste. The article describes the growing number of state policies to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills. In addition to Massachusetts, four other states (California, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont) already have some form of food waste disposal ban. Maryland, New Jersey and New York are also considering policies restricting the disposal of food waste.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) established a Commercial Organics Disposal Ban in October of 2014 that applies to businesses and institutions disposing one ton or more of food waste per week. According to John Fischer, Branch Chief of Commercial Waste Reduction & Waste Planning at MassDEP, most of the 1,700 waste producers covered by the law are complying with it. A recent independent study found that Massachusetts’ organics ban has already spurred $175 million in economic activity while creating more than 900 new jobs.

State-level waste policies are one of many strategies to combat food waste. Individual food service businesses can reduce food waste through operational changes, such as eliminating trays or reducing plate sizes to encourage people to take only as much food as they can eat. For the grocery industry, the Food Waste Reduction Alliance and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic recently partnered to recommend standardized date labels on food products so they are less confusing for consumers and result in less disposal of past-date foods that are still safe to eat.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts assists businesses and institutions with recycling and food waste diversion. The RecyclingWorks website includes extensive information on food recovery and how to comply with the Massachusetts Commercial Organics Disposal Ban. This guidance includes best management practices for food donation to help businesses in Massachusetts donate surplus food, including legal fact sheets from the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic on date labeling, liability protections, and tax incentives related to food donation. To speak to a recycling expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at