As the Boston Globe explains today:
As of Oct. 1, Massachusetts has banned any establishment that creates a ton or more of food waste per week from sending as much as a carrot peel to the state’s rapidly dwindling available landfills. Despite a recycling rate topping 40 percent, Massachusetts businesses and households still toss about 6.5 million tons of garbage every year — enough to fill up Fenway Park 74 times. Most of it is piled into a couple dozen landfills where it slowly decomposes, the organic stuff from kitchens and yards spewing the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, or hauled to a handful of waste-to-energy incinerators where it is burned to create electricity.Clare Leschin-Hoar covered the Massachusetts news for the Guardian this week. Elsewhere in the country, Seattle is pursuing a similar policy just this week -- but without limiting it just to large waste producers as the Massachusetts policy does. For further background, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a longer 2012 report with estimates on the scale of food waste going to landfills.
So-called compostable organics make up more than 25 percent of the state’s commercial and household waste, and the goal of the new regulation is to divert much of that away from landfills. Where will it go? To composting facilities and energy plants that run on biogas (made primarily of methane) — places where it can actually be put to use.
Most of these links were brought to my attention this week by Jennifer Otten, a faculty member in health services at the University of Washington. Professor Otten's food policy class uses my textbook, Food Policy in the United States: An Introduction. She reports that food waste issues make a great concrete local issue for use in food policy teaching: "Students get really into this topic, because it’s something they can do something about."