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Curbside Food Waste Collection Program Announced

The new pickup program will turn residents’ food waste into compost and clean energy, expanding citywide composting options.

Building on her commitment to make Boston a Green New Deal City, Mayor Michelle Wu and the Public Works Department today announced that a curbside food waste collection program with rolling online enrollment is now available. Food waste collection will align with residents’ scheduled trash and recycling collection days. This program will reduce the City’s reliance on landfills and incinerators, and make it more convenient for Boston residents to dispose of their household food waste. The food waste, which will be collected through a partnership between Garbage to Garden and Save That Stuff, will be sent to Save that Stuff's composting site in West Bridgewater to be turned into compost that will be made available to Boston parks, gardens, and schools, and sent to Waste Management's CORe Facility in Charlestown where it will be made into clean energy. 

“In Boston we do big things by getting the small things right, and curbside food waste collection is an important example of how we can each have an impact in moving our city toward sustainability with how we dispose of our food scraps,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Making it easier and more accessible for residents to compost diverts our City’s waste from landfills and incineration, so Boston can be a Green New Deal city. I encourage everyone interested to sign up, and I’m excited to see how the program grows in the years to come.”

Any Boston resident who lives in a residential building with six units or less is eligible to enroll in the program. The City is prioritizing enrollment in the program to residents in vulnerable communities, based on the state's criteria for environmental justice communities coupled with proximity to a Project Oscar compost drop-off site. This year’s curbside collection program will have a cap of 10,000 households for the first year, with the goal of adding 10,000 or more every year, depending on demand.

Service begins August 1, 2022. In July, compost bin “starter kits” will be delivered to residents who have enrolled in the program. The “starter kits” include an onboarding manual, a roll of liners, kitchen bin, collection bin, and a magnet outlining what food scraps are and are not accepted in the program. Accepted materials include common household food scraps such as coffee grounds, fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, and eggs. 

“Food waste constitutes one-third of the current waste stream, and we’re excited to introduce this program to Boston residents to help meet our zero waste goals,” said Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “Our goal is to educate residents on ways to reduce the amount of food waste they generate and give them ways to responsibly dispose of what they can’t use or donate.” 

"Expanded composting opportunities for Boston residents is critical to meet our zero-waste goals," said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. "By centering environmental justice communities in this process, we are placing equity at the forefront of our work and helping the residents that are most impacted by the effects of climate change.” 

Today’s announcement aligns with Boston’s Zero Waste Plan, outlining the City’s strategy to reduce its waste by 2035. MassDEP estimates that food waste accounts for more than 25 percent of the waste stream in Massachusetts after recycling. When sent to landfills or incinerators, food waste can generate harmful greenhouse gasses, lose potential energy, cause pollution, and lose its agricultural benefits.

The City’s collection team will transform Boston’s food waste by utilizing two methods:

  • Save that Stuff’s Composting Facility in West Bridgewater, MA: Food scraps will be turned into compost at Save that Stuff’s composting facility in West Bridgewater, MA. In the composting process, organic material is made into nutrient-rich fertilizer that helps produce more plants and food. The finished compost will be made available to Boston parks, community gardens, and schools. 
  • Waste Management’s CORe Facility in Charlestown: At the Waste Management’s CORe Facility food waste is made into a slurry for easier combustion. The slurry is then hauled to North Andover’s Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) where it is produced into biogas and renewable electricity which is sent to the grid. 

“The benefits of food scrap recycling are undeniable,” said Garbage to Garden President and Founder Tyler Frank. “We have offered private subscription curbside composting for ten years, but this municipally-funded program is a major milestone for New England. We’re excited to be a part of this unique program, and look forward to seeing this model replicated as other communities follow Boston’s lead in the next few years.”

“We look forward to recovering this important segment of the waste stream and are encouraged by the steps Boston is taking towards our One Goal. Zero Waste!” said Save That Stuff President Erik Levy.

The link to sign up for the curbside food waste collection program, as well as more information about the City’s composting efforts, can be found here

In addition to this program, the City is expanding Project Oscar, its food waste drop-off program. Launching this summer, the City will be partnering with farmers markets and community gardens to roll out nearly 25 new sites across the City. To find a drop-off nearest to you, please click here

"As an organization that makes compost, distributes compost to neighborhood gardeners and buys in compost from regional companies, we know how important this resource is and how our local food system can be strengthened by producing more of it,” said Danielle Andrews, the Boston Farmer Manager for The Food Project. “We are thrilled to partner with the City to offer a comprehensive composting program to residents, using both our West Cottage farm and Dudley Common farmers’ market as drop off locations for food scraps and other organic matter."

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