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Mandatory Composting Laws in MA, WA

Is Big Food Ready to Address Food Waste?

Mandatory Composting Laws in MA, WA

Massachusetts and Seattle are both enacting mandatory composting laws to keep food waste out of landfills.

What is the point of requiring individuals and companies to compost? MA and Seattle are each taking a different approach, so let’s look at the laws and why this is good for the planet and for the economy.

Related: Miami Shores Family Fined for Growing Food, Does composting at schools really address the food waste issue?

Mandatory Composting for Businesses in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the mandatory composting law applies only to businesses, and only to those businesses who produce more than one ton of organic waste per week. Really, that’s not a whole lot of businesses. But this law still has the potential to keep a lot of food out of landfills.

The MA law also allows those companies to give or sell their organic waste to methane digestion operations. The idea is to keep organic waste out of landfills, not specifically to force folks to compost.

Mandatory Composting for Individuals in Seattle

Seattle has had municipal food composting since 2009, and the city is now requiring residents to use it. They’re only fining folks $1 per violation, though. The requirement goes into effect next summer.

On its face, mandatory composting might seem punitive, but when you consider how much of the waste in our landfills comes from food, it really makes good economic sense. Instead of letting it rot away, producing methane, we can put our food scraps to good use.

We’re not just tossing food into the landfill. That’s money in our trash cans. As Jeff argued in his piece on Sustainablog, mandatory composting creates jobs, and that composted food is actually a viable product that cities, states, or composting companies can sell.

Mandatory composting also takes some burden off of our landfills, which saves our governments some cash. We don’t have infinite space, so less waste in the landfill means less money spent on solid waste programs.

Image Credit: Compost Bin photo via Shutterstock