Massachusetts groups work to spur recycling in
The Massachusetts Department of
Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Massachusetts Food
Association (MFA), a supermarket industry group, announced that
they have signed a memorandum of understanding that will encourage
grocery stores across the state to increase their recycling participation
– particularly in the composting of such items as spoiled
fruits and vegetables, floral and deli wastes, and waxed cardboard.
The agreement outlines a collaborative
effort between the state agency and the industry group to advance
recycling at supermarkets across Massachusetts by expanding their
existing Supermarket Organics Recycling Network (SORN).
MassDEP will do its part by providing
technical assistance to stores that want to start new programs
and developing a voluntary certification program to provide regulatory
relief incentives for supermarkets that establish and maintain
comprehensive recycling programs.
“This program is beneficial
to everyone in Massachusetts,” said MassDEP commissioner
Robert W. Golledge Jr. “Supermarkets save money, recyclers
receive a steady stream of clean organic materials so they can
produce good compost to sell, and the environment is better off
because the more we recycle, the less we need new waste disposal
Food and bulk-packaging wastes
account for up to 90 percent of the material that supermarkets
have traditionally thrown away. The state is working to divert
these items from disposal because they are easy to recycle and
valuable to recyclers. Organic wastes, for example, can be processed
into nutrient-rich soil products.
The 57 grocery stores that participated
in SORN last year – including Big Y, Roche Bros., Shaw’s/Star,
Stop & Shop, and Whole Foods supermarkets – composted
and recycled between 60 and 75 percent of their waste, diverting
8,900 tons of organics, 26,200 tons of cardboard, and more than
1,000 tons of plastic from disposal, saving an average of more
than $45,000 per store in the process.
Participation has since grown
to 62 supermarkets. MassDEP and MFA hope at least 100 Massachusetts
grocery stores will be recycling organics by next year. Their
ultimate goal is for all 400 supermarkets in the state to have
active recycling programs in place within three years.