By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI.org News staff
Starting in 2014, the
will ban food waste from businesses, schools and other institutions. By 2020,
the program aims to compost 45 percent of its approximately 1 million tons of
annual organic waste. It's also targeting 2020 for statewide residential food
waste collection. Bay State
Island collects yard debris and Christmas trees, which it
processes as the Central Landfill in
and sells as compost to the public. It also offers a limited amount of compost
at no cost to cities and towns. Johnston
While several business currently compost and some universities dabble in it,
The Vermont House and Senate have approved similar legislation that would ban food waste from regular trash by 2020. The bill is expected to be signed by the governor.
DEP officials say the numbers add up for businesses to divert organic waste. Hauling organic waste to a compost facility is about a third less than trucking it to a landfill or incinerator, according to the DEP. Already about 300 of the state's 500 grocery stores have their organic waste composted, DEP officials said. Savings amount to some $20,000 to $30,000 a year per store. "(Businesses) don't care if we ban. They are moving pretty quickly to get (organic waste) out of there already," said Greg Cooper, DEP's deputy director.
Steve Sylven, a spokesman for Shaw's supermarkets, said the grocery chain has no objections to the compost initiatives. Instead, Shaw's has embraced a 90 percent waste-reduction goal at all of its stores. "There's a lot of benefits to zero-waste initiatives," Sylven said. "From our standpoint it allows us to reinvest back in the business."
say, also include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and extending the life of
landfills. Diverting food waste to anaerobic digesters also converts the food
to fertilizer and energy. A farm in Massachusetts currently runs the state's
only compost and waste-to-energy digester. Rutland,
A subcommittee has been created to study a long-term food ban from waste.
already has banned
recyclables, wood and tires from trash. Massachusetts
The project was launched by
's House Natural
Resources Committee and will not require an increase in state spending. Nor is
it relying on federal funds, according to Cathy Jamieson, the state's solid
waste program manager. The cost, she said, will be spread across
municipalities, waste haulers and those looking to grow a business. "We
are anticipating that this will prompt more investment to build
infrastructure," Jamieson said. Vermont
To boosts the state's stagnant waste diversion rate, the initiative will focus not just on composting but also on other uses for food, such as food recovery.
Ultimately, both states are taking action through a deliberate, yet gradual approach.
Vermont's project was launched out of a desire to
increase the state's flat 33 percent recycling rate — is at about 24 percent. Rhode Island
"In order to have something change you need to do something different," Jamieson said.