According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), food waste and other organic material make up approximately 25 percent of all waste disposed of every year. This translates into over one million tons of compostable waste landfilled annually, of which 900,000 tons is food. In 2014, Massachusetts implemented the Commercial Food Waste Disposal Ban for facilities that dispose of one ton or more food waste per week. That waste is now banned from landfills and municipal waste combustors, and work is underway to divert the organic waste to a variety of uses. A key challenge in doing so is to ensure that this food surplus is directed to where it is most needed, with an emphasis on addressing hunger through donations and distribution to food insecure households.
There are at least 12 pieces of legislation under consideration in the 2017-18 legislative session that relate to food waste. The Collaborative has worked with stakeholder organizations from many sectors of the food system to analyze these bills and develop a proposal for a comprehensive package that would address key issues identified in the Plan. The proposal was presented at a briefing at the Massachusetts State House on July 26, 2017. The Collaborative will continue to work with legislators and staff as the bills move through the legislative process. The briefing paper is available here.
The Collaboratve is supporting passage of, S.838/H.3327 An Act encouraging the donation of food to persons in need.