Agresource and Needham:
Providing Solutions for Massachusetts' Organic Waste Ban
Several NEBRA members have long been providing composting, digestion, and other support services for management of food scraps in Massachusetts. With the October 1, 2014 ban on disposal of some organics, they have even more of a role to play. Agresource Inc. manages and markets all sorts of composts, from yard & leaf to food scrap to biosolids; they provided the following story:
"The new Massachusetts ban on landfill disposal of food scraps provides opportunities for diverting more food wastes.... Although the ban is new, food wastes have been incorporated into many successful composting operations for a number of years.
"Since April 2009 The Town of Needham has been successfully incorporating food wastes into the existing leaf and yard waste composting program. Although food wastes are composted at a number of farm facilities throughout Massachusetts, the Needham program is one of the first municipally operated leaf and yard waste composting programs to receive source-separated food residuals on a regular basis.
"The Town of Needham has a successful composting operation and handles about 10,000 tons per year of leaves and yard wastes on a 5.3-acre site located at the recycling Transfer Station. Agresource markets the compost generated at the facility and provides the Town with technical support.
"Agresource and the Town entered into an agreement with New England Solid Waste Consultants, a regional trucking company, and Brick Ends Farm, a registered farm composting operation, to divert source separated food wastes from the ongoing composting operations at the farm to the Needham facility. Thus the Town has been able to successfully add food wastes to its ongoing compost operation without having the responsibility of setting up and managing the collection program.
"All food wastes received at the Needham facility are delivered by New England Solid Waste Consultants in accordance with a pre-arranged schedule. Food wastes are collected primarily from grocery markets, and they consist largely of vegetables and bakery products. Small quantities of meat, fish, and dairy are included along with the plant material generated from the floral department. Generators have instituted programs to insure that the food wastes are free of plastic packaging and any other unwanted debris.
"Upon the receipt of the food wastes (typically 6.5 ton loads, twice a week), they are quickly mixed with leaves and yard wastes. The addition of food wastes into the existing composting operations has a number of benefits to the Town. Not only does the Town receive a tip fee for the food wastes, but also the food wastes provide additional nutrients and moisture. Thus when added to the relatively dryer leaf and yard wastes, they can accelerate the composting process.
"The Needham compost facility serves as a model that may be used by others looking to add food wastes into existing composting operations that receive leaves."