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One Way to Cut Food Waste? Make it a Crime

Massachusetts has one of the most ambitious plans to ban large businesses and institutions from discarding food waste.

Some states and municipalities in the U.S. are implementing food waste bans that prohibit sending food waste to landfills. The bans are one more tool local governments can use to reuse food waste and divert organic waste from landfills where it takes up valuable space and creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. European countries like Germany and Sweden have been trailblazers in food waste recycling, due at least in part to landfill bans that prohibit sending some biodegradable wastes or recyclable materials to landfills.

Massachusetts has one of the most ambitious plans to ban large businesses and institutions from discarding food waste. Beginning in mid-2014, commercial entities—universities, hotels, grocery stores, manufacturers—that produce more than a ton of organic waste per week will have to find alternative disposal methods. The state hopes to extend the measure to homes eventually. The idea is that the food waste can then be diverted to privately owned composting facilities and plants that convert organic waste to energy through anaerobic digestion.

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