WasteWise Spring Forum: Helping More Businesses Waste Less

By Matt Brodeur, Green Business Fellow

Photos Courtesy of Ben Coe

On May 9, Gillette Stadium hosted RecyclingWorks in MA, MassDEP, and US EPA for the WasteWise Spring Forum on food recovery across the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy.

RecyclingWorks organizes the WasteWise Forums which take place in the spring and fall each year and span a range of solid waste, recycling, and food waste topics for businesses and institutions. The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) administers RecyclingWorks, a MassDEP funded program which assists businesses and institutions with establishing recycling and composting programs.

Bronson Green, Site Operations Manager for Gillette Stadium

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Unpacking Food Waste

By Matt Brodeur, Green Business Fellow

Some quantity of spoiled and damaged foods are an unfortunate but inevitable part of supermarket and food manufacturing operations. Being able to keep these food products out of landfills has been a challenge given that many foods are sealed in packaging. However, BioCycle details how one Massachusetts company, E.L. Harvey & Sons Inc., invested in mechanical separation technology to remove packaging from food. E.L. Harvey received a grant through MassDEP’s Recycling Business Development Grant (RBDG) program which enabled them to purchase and install the separator.

Depackaging Food Waste

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Gain Recognition for your Waste Reduction Efforts

By Matt Brodeur, Green Business Fellow

For most organizations, there is always room to reduce the amount of waste produced, whether it is food, cardboard, or hazardous materials. Businesses and institutions are motivated to reduce waste for a wide variety of reasons including economic and environmental concerns. But, often, reducing waste through prevention, reuse, or recycling is a thankless endeavor.

Waste Reduction

WasteWise 2016 Fall Forum

Participants in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) and WasteWise programs gain the opportunity to receive recognition and a way to broadcast their achievements to customers and employees. While FRC specifically pertains to reducing wasted food, WasteWise rewards organizations for a broader range of solid waste materials. Both national programs are voluntary and free of cost for participants.

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Food Waste Initiative Creates Jobs in Massachusetts

To help businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and composting opportunities, the Center for EcoTechnology administers a program called  RecyclingWorksMA for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The agency has just released a report highlighting the economic benefits in Massachusetts of food waste reduction initiatives. The following post, with a link to the report, was originally posted on the RecyclingWorksMA blog.

And continuing the theme of economic successes in the state that are linked to environmental and economic sustainability initiatives, the Mass. Clean Energy Energy just released it’s annual Clean Energy Industry Report, which describes significant growth in this sector over 2015!

Yesterday, December 22, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) released a new report highlighting the positive economic benefits of reducing food waste. This report studied the effects of the Massachusetts Commercial Food Waste Ban, which prohibits businesses and institutions that generate one ton or more of food waste per week from disposing of that waste in the trash. About 1,700 facilities such as universities, supermarkets, food processors, hotels, conference centers, and restaurants are subject to the ban. This ban, which went into effect in October of 2014, was the nation’s first requiring commercial entities to divert wasted food from disposal via donation, animal feed, anaerobic digestion, or composting.

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New Harvard Toolkit Shines Light on Food Waste Policy

By Matt Brodeur, Green Business Fellow 

The Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic (FLPC) recently released a toolkit called Keeping Food Out of the Landfill: Policy Ideas for States and Localities to help stakeholders eliminate the mountainous problem of wasted food. CET’s Director of Green Business Services, Lorenzo Macaluso, contributed to the publication.

According to the toolkit, 63 million tons of food produced in the U.S. is wasted each year (1). To put that massive number into perspective, it takes “approximately 21% of the United States’ fresh water supply and 300 million barrels of oil…to produce food that goes to waste” (1). In addition, the amount of food that is wasted each year is significantly more than the amount that would be needed to eradicate hunger in the United States. In 2015, 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 13.1 million children.


Having a set of proven solutions and recommendations to aid policymakers and other stakeholders in reducing wasted food is an invaluable resource. The toolkit has an array of sections on topics such as date labeling, organic waste bans, K-12 schools, and tax incentives for food donation. For example, the toolkit explains that the federal government does not regulate date labels on perishable foods, so some states have taken it upon themselves to enact date labeling laws. Other states, such as New York, have no regulations whatsoever governing how manufacturers label their products. Because there is no standardized terminology for labeling, many people assume that labels meant to indicate food quality (e.g. “best before”, “use by”) are indicators of food safety. All of these inconsistencies lead to consumers taking excessive precautions and throwing away safe, wholesome food.

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