Incentives for Massachusetts grocery stores available
The Massachusetts Department of
Environmental Protection (MassDEP) launched a new program in partnership
with the supermarket industry. The program rewards full-service
grocery stores with regulatory relief if they voluntarily develop
sustainable programs for reusing organics and other wastes instead
of throwing them away.
Known as Supermarket Recycling
Program Certification (SRPC), the initiative has grown from an
ongoing cooperative effort between MassDEP and the Massachusetts
Food Association (MFA), an industry group which represents supermarkets
and other food stores, to develop innovative methods for helping
supermarkets recycle and compost more of the waste they generate.
In August 2005, MassDEP and MFA
entered into a partnership to advance recycling at full-service
grocery stores across the state by expanding their existing Supermarket
Organics Recycling Network (SORN). The new voluntary certification
program takes this collaboration to the next level.
Organics – including spoiled
and out-of-date food, cardboard, plants, soil, and renderings
account for more than three-quarters of the waste generated by
a typical supermarket. Recycling and composting that material
instead of throwing it away can save a store between $20,000 and
$40,000 per year, on average, in avoided disposal costs.
Most supermarkets have been recycling
cardboard for some time, but SORN has helped 62 stores increase
their diversion of organic wastes to composting facilities and
animal feeding operations. These supermarkets, including Big Y,
Roche Bros., Shaw’s/Star, Stop & Shop, and Whole Foods
– have in the last year diverted more than 10,000 tons of
food scraps and other organic materials from landfills and combustion
Full-service grocery stores participating
in the new voluntary program will not only save money, but also
improve their compliance with existing Massachusetts waste disposal
bans. Massachusetts currently bans nine items from the waste stream,
including paper, cardboard, and glass.
Among other things, participating
supermarkets will need to provide for comprehensive recycling
of cardboard, plastic wrap, shrink-wrap, and organic material.
MassDEP will then exempt waste loads generated by these stores
from routine comprehensive waste ban inspections for paper; cardboard;
glass, metal and plastic containers; and leaves and yard waste.
Each supermarket that applies for SRPC certification will need
to meet and maintain specific recycling and composting criteria
to retain that status.
MassDEP has banned a number of
materials from disposal in Massachusetts’ landfills and
combustion facilities to promote recycling and composting. Businesses
that do not set up programs to divert banned items from their
waste run the risk of having their loads rejected at disposal
or transfer facilities, paying additional handling fees, or facing
For additional information about
the program, visit mass.gov/dep/recycle/supermkt.htm.