By Catherine Trudell
Each year an estimated one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted worldwide. And most of it isn’t finding its way to composting facilities. In fact, 20 percent of what goes into municipal landfills is food. Massachusetts has put commercial organic waste at the forefront of its zero waste pathway, and is seeing success.
“I think where we see the most progress so far and the most opportunity for continued progress is around reducing food waste,” said John Fischer, commercial waste manager for Massachusetts Department of Environment Protection. “By reducing waste at the source, donating food, and then sending a lot of other food that can’t be reduced or donated to either composting facilities or to animal feed or to anaerobic digestion facilities.”
Fischer said Massachusetts expects continued success. This could be because of the statewide food ban that went into affect Oct. 1, 2014. The commercial food ban applies to businesses and institutions that dispose of a ton or more organic waste a week. Instead of throwing food scraps in the trash, these big hotels and restaurants must separate their waste and send it off for composting or anaerobic digestion.
“We did a study recently that estimated that the state of Massachusetts is diverting 270,000 tons of food waste per year, based on information from haulers who are servicing the about 1,800 businesses and institutions,” said Fischer.
With success in commercial composting, Boston is working on residential next. The opening of a new anaerobic digester in Charlestown this month has made it feasible for the city to handle the volume of food waste produced by residents.