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.

The study, conducted by ICF International, Inc. of Cambridge, compared jobs and economic activity before and after the ban’s implementation among food waste haulers, composting sites, anaerobic digestion facilities, animal feed operations, and food rescue organizations.

The report found that in 2016, organic waste haulers, organic waste processors, and food rescue organizations supported more than 900 jobs and produced about $175 million in economic activity. This is a 150 percent increase in jobs in these sectors from 2010, and the surveyed businesses project another 50 percent in additional job growth this year.

Currently, organics haulers collect an estimated 270,000 annually in food materials, up from an estimated 100,000 tons prior to the ban. Organics haulers and processors are investing significantly in their facilities and equipment to support additional growth with over $70 million in investment planned.

The Commonwealth’s effort to support diversion of wasted food from disposal also includes technical assistance and grants. The MassDEP’s RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program provides recycling assistance to business and institutions by helping these entities start or improve diversion programs for wasted food and recyclable materials. In 2015, RecyclingWorks conducted a stakeholder engagement process to produce Food Donation Guidance that assists businesses and institutions interested in establishing food donation programs.

Meanwhile, grants such as the MassDEP’s Recycling Business Development Grant are helping expand processing infrastructure for diverted food materials.

See the full MassDEP report for more details on the analysis of the economic impacts of the food waste ban.

RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts is a recycling assistance program for businesses and institutions. If you would like assistance with starting or expanding a program to divert wasted food from disposal, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at info@recyclingworksma.com.

Heather Billings provides technical assistance at Kowloon’s Restaurant


The release of this study coincides with the 2016 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report – an annual accounting of the sector’s activity – shows the clean energy sector continues to report sustained growth, expanding to more than 105,000 jobs between 2015 and 2016. The industry contributes $11.8 billion to Massachusetts’ Gross State Product and represents a 2.5 percent share of the entire Massachusetts economy. This robust economy grew 6 percent since the 2015 report and by 75 percent – or 45,000 more workers – since 2010.

You can read the full report here. 

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