No more food waste! That’s the new motto for Massachusetts. On October 1, 2014 it becomes the first USA state to commercially ban organic waste disposal. Taking inspiration from its allies in Europe, America is rapidly focusing attention on its limited landfill space. As we waste 1/3 of all produced food, which fill up our landfills and release methane, a greenhouse gas, organic waste becomes an issue hard to ignore.
In Massachusetts, food waste makes up 25% of the waste stream. The new legislation will aim to reduce waste heading to the landfill by 30% in 2020, and 80% by 2050. This standard is not as ambitious as that of Europe, which has set a target of ‘near zero waste‘ by 2020.
So whom will the ban affect? Firstly, it will affect the big players and contributors to food waste, such as: supermarkets, colleges, hotels, convention centers, hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and food service companies. In total, about 1,700 businesses can expect changes in the coming months.
Considering that most of the food that is wasted is actually edible and fit for human consumption, the affected businesses will have a chance to donate their food to local non-profits. In return, they can expect tax deductions for charitable donations and claim up to 10% of their net income.
One non-profit that helps connect supermarkets’ surplus to local needs is Lovin’ Spoonfuls. Having operated in the food industry for the past few years and fed 750,000 people, the organization is aware of the rising hunger among its local residents.
To address this problem, the food rescue organization operates 3 trucks equipped with refrigerators. The fleet visits various businesses, such as Whole Foods, which wish to donate produce, and then drops off the goods at local non-profits that feed people in need. By the end of the day the empty trucks return to their lot, having reduced food waste and hunger.
Considering that food redistribution is a big factor for successfully reducing food loss, such services are vital for the longevity of this law. We applaud the work of Massachusetts and Lovin’ Spoonfuls, and hope to see more states adopting similar initiatives.