New Report Highlights Economic Benefits Massachusetts has Witnessed by Reducing Food Waste

By ecoRI News staff

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently issued a report which found that the state’s commercial food waste ban has created more than 900 jobs and stimulated $175 million in economic activity during its first two years.

Implemented in 2014, the nation’s first food scrap and organics ban requires any commercial organization that disposes of a ton or more of food scrap a week to pull it out of the waste stream and reuse it, send it for composting or animal feed operations, or use it in an anaerobic digestion facility that produces renewable energy.

The report, conducted by ICF International Inc. of Cambridge, assessed the economic development benefits of food-waste-reduction initiatives. The 25-page report compared jobs and economic activity among food-waste haulers; composting, anaerobic digestion and animal feed operations; and food-rescue organizations before and after the Oct. 1, 2014 implementation of the ban. The ban creates jobs by driving a market for alternatives to disposing of food waste in Dumpsters, according to the report.

The report also shows that food-waste haulers and processors, as well as food-rescue organizations, employ 500 people directly, while supporting more than 900 jobs when accounting for indirect and induced effects. These sectors generate more than $46 million of labor income and $175 million in economic activity.

Based on survey results, Massachusetts haulers are collecting an estimated 270,000 tons of food materials annually, showing tremendous growth over the baseline estimate of 100,000 tons of food waste diversion prior to implementation of the commercial organics ban. Jobs in this sector grew by 150 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the report, and these businesses project an additional 50 percent job growth from 2016 to 2017.

About 1,700 facilities, including restaurants, hotels and conference centers, universities, supermarkets and food processors, are covered under the ban.