Food waste is a big problem worldwide. Roughly one-third of our food is wasted. And closer to home, the average American household throws away one-quarter of the food they buy. But it’s not just individuals that are wasting food. Hospitals, supermarkets, restaurants and others end up throwing away huge amounts of food every single day.
Massachusetts is going to war against such waste with the strictest policies nationwide going into effect this October. The ban will only affect those who are throwing away at least one ton of organic material per week. It requires them to either donate or repurpose useable food, and then to ship the rest of the food waste to an anaerobic digestion facility, where the food waste can be recycled into energy, compost and animal feed.
This ban will include 1,700 business in the area, including supermarkets, hospitals, hotels, universities, nursing homes, food services and others.
There are three advantages to this trend:
Those in need will be feed
It’s a depressing thought to think of the vast amount of food being sent to landfills that could feed those struggling to put food on the table. These regulations will force institutions to get creative about repurposing much of their food waste into donations. It's sad that regulations had to force this to happen, but it's a good outcome.
Landfills will receive less
When such huge amounts of food waste are sent to landfills, the waste does not properly break down and decompose, ruining the natural cycle of food waste being turned into compost, which in turn gives life to new growth. Instead, landfills fill up, become more costly and create greenhouse gases. Diverting food waste away from landfills will take a little pressure off of overfilled landfills.
Food waste will be turned into something valuable
The food that can’t be repurposed or donated will be made into compost, used to create clean energy, or used to feed animals. These uses mimic the cycle of the old farmstead — instead of the modern habit of piling our leftovers in rotting landfills. It’s a common-sense decision.
The question I have is this: Will other states follow suit?
Related on MNN: