Unless something stops the state Department of Environmental Protection in its tracks, next year Massachusetts will become the first state in the U.S. to require restaurants and other establishments that serve or process food to compost their organic waste rather than putting it in landfills (“The Garbage Guzzler,” March 7, 2013). It’s all part of a master plan to radically reduce solid waste volumes as landfills close. And that vision embraces every household in the commonwealth, because eventually the DEP wants individual householders to do the same thing: compost their food waste. Even that’s not all. “We’d also be happy if everyone composted all their yard waste,” Ann McGovern, Consumer Waste Reduction Coordinator for the DEP, told the Advocate.
McGovern explained that people don’t have to have yards to compost food waste; more and more models of small, odor-free composting bins, some handsomely designed, are available for apartment dwellers.
A final point about organic waste: the state prefers that potato peelings, coffee grounds, cut grass and other such offscourings be directly returned to the natural cycle by being fed to animals, used as compost in gardens or turned into mulch for plants, rather than ending up in the anaerobic digesters that will process larger volumes of organic waste from institutions. And in the case of unspoiled food that’s discarded without being used, McGovern said, “The first thing people should do with their food waste is not waste food. We’re trying to get more food donation programs in place so edible foods don’t go to waste.”•