Big things are afoot in Boston, and the rest of Massachusetts, as new food waste disposal regulations come into effect roughly a year from now. As we mentioned in last week’s post, the state government has passed extensive regulations that require hospitals, hotels, restaurants, and a few other commercial businesses to start separating their food waste from their regular trash. Of course, these entities have been given time to first prepare their facilities for the transition, as well as allowing the state itself to catch up on the necessary infrastructure.

Over the last two years, the state has developed over ten new waste-to-energy plants designed to turn food scraps into relatively clean energy. These plants are called anaerobic digesters, a form of energy production that we have talked about at length before. These digesters act as large incubators for microbes that feed off of the food waste delivered to the facility. The microbial action generates methane as a byproduct which can then be burned to produce electricity. None of the gas generated by the plant is released into the atmosphere, putting it a notch above natural gas in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the plants that will be accepting the new influx of organic waste are set to process over 40 tons of food waste a day. State officials believe they have more than enough capacity to meet the new waste disposal regulations come next July. But others, such as restaurant owners, are still critical of the availability of these digesters and other facilities. Many are also concerned over the cost of disposing of food waste separately from their trash. Many businesses already pay more than other states to get rid of their regular trash, thus raising the concern of even higher disposal bills for two separate garbage pickup services.

Nevertheless, it seems as though the state has little wiggle room when it comes to waste management. The cost of constructing new landfills within the state has skyrocketed, on top of looming shortage of space in existing landfills. Massachusetts is on track to have just 600,000 tons of landfill space available in 2020, making alternative disposal methods all but a necessity to head off a trash crisis.

Hopefully, the state and its residents can revamp their waste collection services to keep more trash out of its dumpsters and less garbage in its landfills.