Patrick administration proposes a commercial food waste ban

Massachusetts officials said Wednesday that they are proposing a commercial food waste ban, along with $4 million in grants and low-interest loans to support facilities that can convert such waste into renewable energy.

Residential food waste is not included in the proposed ban. The process to convert food waste into energy is called anaerobic digestion, or AD.

In a statement included in a Patrick administration press release, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said: “Banning commercial food waste and supporting the development of AD facilities across the Commonwealth is critical to achieving our aggressive waste disposal reduction goals. These policies and programs will continue the Patrick Administration’s commitment to growing the clean energy sector in Massachusetts, creating jobs and reducing emissions.”

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Massachusetts officials have just published draft regulations for the proposed ban. A public comment period runs over the next several weeks. Plans call for the ban to go into effect July 1, 2014.

In draft form, the ban would require any entity that disposes of at least one ton of organic waste per week to donate or re-purpose the useable food. Any remaining food waste would be required to be shipped to an AD facility, a composting operation, or an animal-feed operation.

According to Patrick administration officials, food waste and organics make up as much as 25 percent of the current waste stream going to landfills and incinerators. The proposed food waste ban would help the Commonwealth reach its goals to reduce the waste stream by 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.