Blog Post

Has your business ever lost food inventory as result of an emergency or other unplanned event? Once an emergency happens, it is likely too late to create a plan that prevents wasted food from being disposed of as trash. With a plan in place in advance, you can reduce the amount of food that is wasted when a storm, unforeseen closure, or other event causes a disruption at your business. If you are ready to move fast, you may be able to donate food your business can no longer sell, while any food that spoils can be sent to a compost site or anaerobic digestion facility.  

Food Donation: Establish a relationship with a food pantry or other organization that accepts and distributes the types of food you typically have on hand, so you can act quickly to donate food that you cannot sell. Perishables, such as produce, dairy, meat, and prepared food can be donated if you are able to maintain proper time and temperature requirements. To learn more about establishing an effective donation plan that meets food safety standards, view the RecyclingWorks Food Donation Guidance.

Depackaging: When an entire freezer, cooler, or refrigerator of food spoils, one perceived barrier to composting that wasted food is that much of the food is likely trapped inside packaging. Fortunately, Massachusetts has a number of facilities with depackaging equipment which can mechanically separate packaging from the food waste inside it. The wasted food can then be sent to an anaerobic digestion facility. Spoiled food that isn’t packaged in the first place can be sent directly to an anaerobic digestion facility or compost site.

Connect with service providers in advance so you know where to turn in the event of a last-minute pickup need:

  • Start by checking with your regular waste hauler(s) to see if they can provide one-time pickup of wasted food if needed in an emergency situation.
  • If your current hauler(s) cannot offer the service you are looking for, use the resources linked above and the RecyclingWorks Find-a-Recycler tool to identify other local food waste haulers or processors. Contact potential service providers to make sure they offer one-time pickup.
  • Once contacts are established, ensure that their information is easily accessible. RecyclingWorks’ Facility Waste Management Plan provides a space to centralize information.
  • Additional tips on setting up a contract for a one-time pickup are available in our Hauler Contracting Guidance.
  • If you currently put food scraps and other wasted food in the trash, consider setting up an ongoing food waste collection program. See RecyclingWorks Source Separation Guidance for tips on how to start a food scraps collection program.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) provides no-cost assistance to help businesses and institutions reduce waste and maximize recycling, reuse, and food recovery opportunities. To speak with a food waste expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525, or email us at