On Monday, Governor Chafee signed into law the food scrap bill I’ve been supporting in the General Assembly and here on CLF’s blog. (Here, here, and here are posts I’ve written, and here [pdf] is a recent letter to Speaker Mattiello supporting the bills.) This new law is a victory for Rhode Island!
As I’ve written before, right now in Rhode Island, most food scrap is treated as waste and sent to the Central Landfill, where it first takes up space and then decomposes, producing the potent greenhouse gas methane. Our new food scrap law is a step toward changing that.
Under the new law, beginning January 1, 2016, businesses and institutions that generate two tons of food scrap per week or more will have to “recycle” this food scrap through composting or anaerobic digestion, provided two conditions are met: first, there must be a “recycling” facility within 15 miles of the generator, and second, that “recycling” facility must be able to beat the Landfill’s price. As a result, Rhode Island should soon produce more compost, providing a boon to our burgeoning agricultural sector. And Rhode Island will become host to new anaerobic digesters that convert food scrap to electricity, heat, and biosolids that are also useful in agriculture. Food scrap generators will save money, and new businesses will come to a state that needs them.
With this new law on the books, Rhode Island joins New England neighbors Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, becoming the fourth state to require that food scrap is beneficially reused instead of landfilled. Many thanks to the General Assembly – especially lead sponsors Rep. Donna Walsh and Sen. Catherine Cool Rumsey, as well as leadership – for passing this bill that is an important step toward a more environmentally and economically sustainable Rhode Island.