ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Sustainable Cities Collective was relaunched as Smart Cities Dive in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates or images, may not have migrated over. For the latest in smart city news, check out the new Smart Cities Dive site or sign up for our daily newsletter.

Will Massachusetts be the first to ban food waste?

Front Page Story, Boston Globe, Friday, 4-May, 2012: "Commercial food waste to be banned".

The story says that starting in 2014, hotels, large restaurants, as well as big businesses and institutions will not be legally allowed to put food waste in the trash, starting in 2014.  In coming years, this could be extended to homes.

For me, this is nothing new.  Not by a long-shot.

You see, my family lived in The Netherlands for 2 years – about 10 years ago.  Already, back then, we placed food waste in a separate container which was hauled off each week by a service that took care of removing and composting food waste (rather than just dumping it in landfills).  Landfill capacity in Massachusetts is estimated to drop from 2.1 million tons in 2012 to only 0.6 million tons in 2020.

How much of this food waste goes into landfills currently? 1.4 million tons, yes that would be nearly 3 billion pounds.  THREE BILLION POUNDS.  A year.  A YEAR!

Initially this program is planned to divert a third of this (a measly 1 billion pounds) from landfills to composting sites and plants that can convert waste into energy, heat, and/or fertilizer.
Why is this showing up on a Project Management blog?

Shouldn't take too much to connect the dots here.  A program like this is going to ambitiously require an entirely parallel waste system, including collection, transportation, processing, tracking, and so on.   On top of this, of course, is the creation of the plants to do the conversions to energy, heat, and fertilizer.  I can easily imagine hundreds, maybe thousands of projects being launched based on this effort.

So it behooves us as PMs to learn the vocabulary, the rationale, the logistics behind this.  Agree or disagree with the reasons for doing it – or whether we do it at all – knowing more about this may (ironically) feed your family.

Learn more about the food we throw away on this link.

Oh – one more thing… enjoy this wonderful video – an oldie but a goodie – about food waste -  by Shel Silverstein.