A collaborative effort is increasing food waste composting in Needham.

After an introduction from Green Needham, Jeff Dinneen (Facility Manager at Roche Bros) and Jon Butler (worker owner at CERO Cooperative) met to customize composting services for the local supermarkets. In less than two months more than 25,000 pounds of inedible food waste is being composted at the Needham’s Recycling & Transfer Station (RTS).

Food scraps that go to landfills break down to produce methane, the most toxic of greenhouse gasses. Composting instead returns the nutrient-rich material to the soil to nourish next year’s crops. Roche Bros and CERO Co-op’s collaboration brings the benefits of less waste, less truck traffic and a new resource in the local  economy.

Roche Brothers’ Jeff Dinneen says that the company “is very excited about working with CERO for our food waste initiative – we have found the service to be very professional, the drivers are courteous, and the service is very clean. Roche Bros is proud to be supporting the Needham economy while doing the right thing for the environment.”

CERO Cooperative was approved for delivering at Needham’s RTS last fall. Greg Smith, Needham’s Superintendent of Solid Waste and Recycling Operations, was seeking to improve the quality of the material he was receiving to support the Town’s composting operation. He was impressed by CERO’s commitment to bring super clean compostable material to the facility. In 2014 the Department of Environmental Protection instituted a mandate that requires any entity producing one ton or more organics per week to remove that material from the waste stream. CERO is a small business that works closely with customers to make source-separation simple. CERO started delivering food waste from its customers to the RTS earlier this year.

CERO provided Roche Brothers and Sudbury Farms with special containers, signage and training making it easy for supermarket employees to separate compostable material. Then CERO comes in to collect the compost and clean out the bins with every pickup. “This contract announcement a major boost for local zero waste efforts” said Michael Greis, Chair of Green Needham. “This collaboration also showcases the opportunity to both reduce costs and generate additional revenue for the Town of Needham through strengthening and growing the RTS’s composting capabilities.”


With organic material making up 40 percent or more of the waste stream, the hope is to expand composting at restaurants, schools and hospitals across town. Beth Israel Deaconess plans to start their program later this summer. “By working together, the Town, Green Needham, local business and CERO Co-op can be a model for cities and towns across the state”, said Greis.

Conversations have been planned to expand pilots in the Needham schools and Newton has asked us to come and share our experiences in Needham to support newer efforts there.

Roche Brothers, CERO, Green Needham and the RTS pitch in to make food waste composting truly local
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