Food Scrap Recovery Policies

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s data on municipal solid waste generation and management, an estimated 52.4 percent of yard trimmings were “grasscycled” or composted in 2018, while only 6.1 percent of food scraps were composted. Policies that ban food scraps from landfills can have a tremendous and immediate effect on diverting organics from the waste stream, while also reducing landfill-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

Austin, TX – Universal Recycling Ordinance

In 2011, the City of Austin set a goal of a 75% diversion rate for solid waste by 2020 as part of its larger zero waste ambitions. In 2014, the city expanded its Universal Recycling Ordinance to include organics. Austin’s goals are based on a desire to mitigate methane emissions from landfills and promote economic development. In its Resource Recovery Master Plan, the city envisions providing incentives to encourage an economy in which the discards of one business can be the feedstocks of another business. A study prepared in 2008 for the city government by consultants estimated that a diversion economy could generate 1,800 jobs for Austin.… Read More

California – Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling

Seeking to further California's waste diversion rate and thereby preserve landfill capacity for the future, the state enacted Assembly Bill 1826 on September 28, 2014. Also known as the Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling (MORe) program, the bill requires commercial generators of organic waste to compost or anaerobically digest their food waste, landscape and other green waste, food-soiled paper, and nonhazardous wood waste. The law's staggered dates of enforcement will allow adjustment time to develop greater capacity in California's existing organic waste processing infrastructure.… Read More

California – Organic Waste Mandates – Methane Reduction

California has implemented a statewide methane emissions reduction program focused on organic waste recycling and food recovery, signed into law by Governor Brown on September 19, 2016. The legislation (SB 1383 Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016) aims to reduce emissions from short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) through food recovery, diversion from landfills, and dairy and livestock manure management. The main targets of the law are statewide reduction of organic waste disposal (to landfills) by 75 percent and recovery of at least 20 percent of currently-disposed surplus food by 2025.… Read More

Connecticut – Organics Recycling Mandate

A 2009 waste characterization study of Connecticut’s waste stream found that food scraps are the single most common recyclable material (by weight) of the state’s disposed solid waste. In fact, almost one-third of the state’s annual contribution to landfills is made up of food scraps and other recoverable organics. These numbers prompted Connecticut to enact a recycling mandate for certain organic materials on January 1, 2014.… Read More

Maryland – Organics Recycling and Waste Diversion

In April 2021, the Maryland Legislature passed House Bill 264, “Solid Waste Management - Organics Recycling and Waste Diversion - Food Residuals,” sponsored by Delegate Lorig Charkoudian (District 20). The bill’s goal is to divert wasted food from landfills and incinerators and spur the development of more capacity to reduce, rescue, and recycle this material. It became law on May 30th without Governor Hogan’s signature. … Read More

Massachusetts – Commerical Organics Disposal Ban

Massachusetts has a problem: it is running out of landfill capacity and already has disposal fees higher than the national average. Accordingly, in 2013, Massachusetts planned to reduce the quantity of waste disposed by 30% in 2020, and by 80% in 2050, from a 2008 baseline level. In working toward achieving this goal, they targeted food waste, resulting in a reduction of 180,000 tons of food waste per year between 2008 and 2018. … Read More

NYC – Commercial Organics Recycling Mandate

New York City generates 1.8 million tons of commercial and residential organic waste, 95% of which ends up in landfills or incinerators both in and outside of New York state lines. In December 2013, NYC passed its Commercial Organic Waste law (Local Law 146), which took effect July 1, 2015. This law mandates specific large-scale generators to arrange for the recycling of their organic materials or employ department-approved methods to process the material themselves. The City has recently recommitted to organics recycling and is making efforts to expand curbside composting as part of its zero waste plans.… Read More

Rhode Island – Food Waste Recycling Requirements

In 2014 Rhode Island amended its Refuse Disposal laws to create a food waste ban in landfills and to promote the recycling of food residuals via composting and anaerobic digestion. Other approved methods include on-site composting or diversion for agricultural uses.… Read More

San Francisco, CA – Composting Rules

The City of San Francisco has some of the most progressive recycling regulations in the country. These regulations were further strengthened in June 2009 when the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring all city residents to separate food scraps, recyclable material, and trash into three separate curbside containers (blue for recycling, black for trash, and green for composting). Starting in 2011 the City will be able to impose fines on those who do not effectively separate these materials.  The fine will be $100 for small businesses and single occupancy homes and up to $1,000 for large businesses and multi-unit buildings. … Read More

Vermont – Universal Recycling Law

With only one active landfill serving the entire state, Vermont is aggressively embarking on a first-of-its-kind, statewide parallel collection program of all mandated recyclable materials, including yard debris and food residuals. By taking a phased-in, all-in approach, by 2020 all of Vermont’s citizens will be required to divert food scraps and other organics from the landfill and all haulers and solid waste management facilities will be required to provide services for these materials.… Read More