A metal bucket overflows with vegetable peels and other food scraps.

New England Food Waste Laws 

Where We Stand

In Massachusetts alone, one million tons of food waste end up in regional landfills every year – that’s a huge waste of a valuable resource that could feed people, animals, and the soil. New England has become a leader in diverting organic waste from landfills, with five of six states now having laws on the books banning large institutions and restaurants from trashing food. CLF is working to make it six out of six.


CONNECTICUT. The legislature passes a law requiring wholesalers, manufacturers, supermarkets, and conference centers to separate organic materials. In January 2022, the state passes the Commercial Organics Recycling Law. Any commercial or industrial enterprise that generates a projected annual volume of 26 tons or more of source-separated organic materials and that is located within 20 miles of an authorized composting facility must comply with this law.


VERMONT. The Universal Recycling Law passes, with an initial ban on food waste by those generating more than two tons a week. That food waste ban expands to smaller generators over time until, in July 2020, food scraps are banned from landfills entirely. Disposal should prioritize food donation to people in need, animal feed, composting, or anaerobic digestion.


MASSACHUSETTS. The state Department of Environmental Protection establishes a ban on food waste from businesses and institutions disposing of one ton or more per week. In November 2022, the Commercial Organic Materials Waste Ban expands those restrictions to facilities that generate more than one-half ton of these materials per week.


Rhode Island. The General Assembly adds food waste to its Refuse Disposal Laws. The ban, which goes into effect in January of 2016, applies only to organic waste-producing institutions generating more than 104 tons per year (two tons per week) if a composting facility is located within 15 miles.


NEW HAMPSHIRE. The Granite State’s new law mandates that “any person” generating one ton of food waste or more per week cannot dispose of that waste in a landfill or incinerator if a facility authorized to manage food waste is located within 20 miles of the point of generation. 


MAINE, RHODE ISLAND, CONNECTICUT. CLF advocates will work with partners to pass or strengthen laws that divert food waste from landfills.