Practical Tips for Restaurants, Supermarkets, Commercial Food Processors & Other Organizations
Food Waste Facts
- Food scraps account for more than 800,000 tons of the waste generated each year in Massachusetts.
- By diverting organics to composting facilities, one supermarket chain in Massachusetts achieved an 80 percent recycling rate, resulting in $20,000 annual savings per store.
- Many hunger relief agencies accept food that is fit for consumption, but cannot be sold to customers.
"If all 400 supermarkets in Massachusetts recycled their organics, the industry could realize more than $4 million in savings per year." -Chris Flynn, President, Massachusetts Food Association
Why Reduce Food Waste?
Improve Your Bottom Line
- Reduce sewer and electricity costs associated with drain disposal.
- Cut disposal costs by generating less waste.
- Reduce costs by sending food scraps to composting facilities instead of landfills or incinerators.
- Take advantage of tax deductions for food donation to charities.
- Reduce purchasing costs. Identify opportunities to manage food waste.
Help the Community
- Help the hungry by donating to food banks that serve networks of hunger-relief agencies, including food pantries and soup kitchens.
- Strengthen the local economy by supporting composting professionals.
Protect the Environment
- Conserve scarce landfill space and reduce water treatment discharge.
- Commercial composters can turn waste into a valuable soil amendment for use on lawns, athletic fields, and farms.
Steps to Reduce Food Waste
- Manage purchases to control food waste generation.
- Donate food that is still fit for human consumption to hunger relief agencies.
- Donate food for animal feed processing.
- Hire a hauler to collect inedible food and bring it to a composting facility or a farm composting operation. Train employees to sort organics from other waste.
- Monitor program and measure savings
Contact a waste hauler to discuss your options.
- MassDEP Commercial, Institutional & Agricultural Composting & Organics provides how-to information for waste generators and lists current food waste diversion programs.
- Center for Ecological Technology provides resources and technical assistance on composting:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WasteWise Program offers waste reduction resources and recognition.
Where Will Your Food Waste Go?
In Massachusetts, food scraps can be combined with waxed corrugated cardboard and paper that cannot be recycled. These materials can be composted at state-approved facilities and farms. The final product serves as a soil amendment for farms, lawns, gardens, and athletic fields. Compost is a natural, recycled, renewable product.
Achieving State Goals Through Composting
In its Beyond 2000 Solid Waste Master Plan, MassDEP set the aggressive goal of reducing solid waste generation in the state by 70 percent by 2010. Composting is a major priority, as food residuals and other organic materials (including waxed corrugated cardboard, paper, and wood) make up to 80 percent of the waste generated by supermarkets, food processors, restaurants, and other related businesses.
While MassDEP encourages the diversion of food waste by haulers and composting professionals, the agency does not license, endorse, or certify individual businesses.
Note: This information was originally produced in brochure form by Massachusetts WasteWise, a partnership of EPA Region 1 and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.