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Getting Scrappy: A New Life for Food Waste

At this Boston company they just love to talk trash -- composting that is!

Photography by: Courtesy of CERO Cooperative

At CERO Cooperative, trash is never really trash. The Massachusetts-based business -- which was recently awarded the Green America’s People & Planet Award -- collects food scraps from local food businesses and turns them into compost. The compost is then delivered to local farms where it can be used to grow fresh produce to be sold and cooked again. 


In Boston, local businesses pay some of the highest rates just to get their trash picked up every day and carried off to landfills. Moreover, for the area’s food businesses, about 65 percent of daily trash collection is compostable. “At the landfills, decomposing food produces the harmful gas, methane, which is then permanently in our air,” says CERO team member, Maya Gaul. “And when you look at food waste as an issue, it is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.” 


(SEE: How Looking at Leftovers Differently Could Be the Answer to the Food Waste Problem)

Photography by: Courtesy of CERO Cooperative
CERO Cooperative's worker-owner team members.

When they work with CERO, local businesses receive easy-to-use, industrial-grade compost carts that can be placed in kitchens or storerooms for easy food scrap disposal. At the end of each day, these carts are picked up and replaced with clean carts. Not only does this save businesses the higher cost of normal trash pick-ups -- or hefty fines under the state’s 2014 food waste ban -- but it makes for a greener environment. It’s a win-win-win! 


(MEET: The Detroit Woman Working Towards a Greener, Zero-Waste City)


Another win-win is that CERO is a cooperative. The workers equally own and govern the business, and directly profit from their labor. “It’s important to approach sustainability from all perspectives, from the people to the business, to the planet,” Gaul says. “Not only are we helping to reduce methane emissions, but we’re able to provide local green jobs to the community.”