Large grocery stores, restaurants and fresh produce distributors in Maryland send their food waste to landfills, mostly because there is no other option in the state for such large amounts of waste.
But that is expected to change as a result of a recent state law that will require large food generators instead to donate servable food, send it to farms where it can be used as animal feed or to transport it to organic recycling facilities.
Those options include sites which compost food waste, leaves, branches and paper to create a “sludge” that is watered and mixed daily for months until it creates nutrient-rich soil. Anaerobic digestion facilities, which use microbes to break down organic material into biogas (mostly methane and carbon dioxide), are also an option.
Starting January 2023, large supermarkets, convention centers and public and private cafeterias that generate two tons or more food waste weekly must divert it from landfills, as long as there is an organic recycling facility within 30 miles where recycling fees would cost them, at most, just 10% more than dumping fees. In 2024, the law will also apply to food producers that generate at least one ton of food waste a week.