MassDEP report shows economic boon in food waste ban

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a report that claims the Massachusetts Commercial Food Waste Ban, implemented in 2014, has created more than 900 jobs and stimulated $175 million in economic activity during the first two years of the ban.

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The ban requires any commercial organization that disposes of one ton or more a week of food waste 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.

The report, conducted by ICF International Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, assessed the economic development benefits of food waste reduction initiatives. The study 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 MassDEP’s commercial organics waste ban. ICF found that the ban creates jobs by driving a market for alternatives to disposing of food waste in the garbage.

The study, commissioned by the Baker-Polito Administration, 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 the survey results, Massachusetts haulers are collecting an estimated 270,000 tons of food materials annually. Jobs in the sector grew by 150 percent between 2010 and 2015, with a projected additional 50 percent job growth from 2016 to 2017. Approximately 1,700 facilities were covered under the ban.