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Massachusetts Marks Implementation of Food Waste Ban

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The Patrick Administration has celebrated the start of its first-in-the-nation, statewide commercial food waste ban. The ban will stimulate increased food donation, recycling and conversion of food waste into valuable products, including renewable energy and compost.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) kicked off a Food Waste Ban *“Full Harvest Tour”* to demonstrate key components of the ban with events at a Hannaford’s Supermarket in Waltham and a dining facility on the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) campus. Other tour events will be held in Hadley, Gardner and Dartmouth and Wrentham.

*“The food waste disposal ban is a critical piece of the Commonwealth’s strategy to reduce solid waste generation and support the production of clean, renewable energy,”* said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. *“The ban will help us reach our aggressive goals to reduce the waste stream by 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.”*

The new ban, regulated by MassDEP, requires that any entity that disposes of at least one ton of organic material per week to donate or re-purpose the useable food. Any remaining food waste will be sent to composting or animal-feed operations or shipped to an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility, where it will be converted to clean energy.

*“The food waste ban provides a win-win-win-win-win-win for residents and businesses in the Commonwealth,”* said MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash. *“It will reduce waste, save money on disposal costs, create renewable energy, cut emissions from fossil fuel use, produce a rich fertilizer for farm use, and grow jobs and stimulate the economy.”*

The disposal ban affects approximately 1,700 businesses and institutions, including supermarkets, colleges and universities, hotels, convention centers, hospitals and nursing homes, large restaurants, and food service and processing companies. It does not affect residences.

*“Since the early 1990s, the Massachusetts Food Association and the grocery industry have worked with MassDEP on organics diversion from the waste stream,”* said Massachusetts Food Association Vice President Brian Houghton. *“Today, we are prepared for the ban with nearly all grocery and supermarket locations already diverting their organics from the waste stream through donations of usable food to folks like Lovin’ Spoonfuls or to others for energy, compost or animal food operations.”*

MassDEP supports food donation, composting and animal-feed operations, but also encourages the use of anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities. An energy-creating biogas is produced when organics are processed in an enclosed AD tank where microbes break down the materials. The biogas can then be used to create heat for industrial processes, fed into a generator to create electricity or used in a combined heat and power system to produce both electricity and heat simultaneously.

The RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program helps businesses and institutions to comply with the waste ban by increasing their recycling efforts. RecyclingWorks provides free web-based resources and guidance, including a searchable service provider database, a phone hotline and direct technical assistance.

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“Massachusetts Marks Implementation of Food Waste Ban”