Each year, more than thirty million tons of food waste get sent to landfills across the U.S. There, it breaks down and releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The state of Massachusetts hopes to address the issue with a new law. Large cafeterias and food producers who generate more than a ton of food waste weekly can no longer send it to landfills. So where can it go?

Cash: “We’ve been connecting these institutions with private sector companies that are coming up with all kinds of different innovative ways to use the materials.”

That’s Commissioner David Cash of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. He says biogas producers are an important solution. They capture the gas that’s released when food decomposes, and turn it into electricity, heat, or fuel — benefiting everyone.

Cash: “If we can keep this stuff out of the landfills, municipalities and companies save money on disposal costs. We reduce greenhouse gases emitted from landfills. It’s a source of clean, renewable energy. It grows clean energy jobs, and it provides an opportunity for repurposing of food.”

In other words, it turns an environmental hazard into an economic opportunity.

Reporting credits: Megan Albon and ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Statement from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
The Oxford Institute of Energy Studies assessment of biogas in Europe
Map showing operational biogas systems produced by the American Biogas Council
American Biogas Council FAQs