Connecticut Source Separated Organic Materials (SSOM) Estimation Guidance

The Connecticut Commercial Organics Recycling Law says: “On and after January 1, 2022, each commercial food wholesaler or distributor, industrial food manufacturer or processor, supermarket, resort or conference center that generates a projected annual volume of 26 tons or more per year of source-separated organic materials (SSOM) AND is located not more than 20 miles from an authorized source-separated organic material composting facility must comply with this law” (CT DEEP).

CET has compiled industry data from published reports and studies, which can be used as guidance for facilities with little to no current SSOM diversion program in place. The purpose of this tool is to help businesses and institutions in Connecticut determine whether it is likely they are subject to the Connecticut Commercial Organics Recycling Law. The law’s SSOM threshold of 26 tons per year equals 0.5 tons per week, which is reflected in the sample calculations below. Actual SSOM generated can vary widely from one business to another. If your business is currently tracking or diverting SSOM, you may dispose of less SSOM than indicated by the industry averages.

We will continue to refine and add metrics as updated or improved data becomes available. This tool was last updated in January 2023. The sources used to develop this SSOM estimation guide can be found at the bottom of this webpage.

Individual results may vary depending on preparation methods and materials, reuse of leftovers, and type of food service. For example, a tray-less dining policy reduces post-consumer SSOM in cafeterias compared with traditional tray service.

What is the definition of “source separated organic material”?

“The statutory definition of ‘Source-Separated Organic Material’ means organic material, including, but not limited to, food scraps, food processing residue and soiled or unrecyclable paper that has been separated at the point or source of generation from nonorganic material.”  The acronym commonly used for this is SSOM, or SSO (Source Separated Organics)” (CT DEEP).

General Conversions

1 ton = 2,000 lbs.

Commercial-industrial waste
1 yd3 (cubic yard) = 250 to 300 lbs.

Food scraps
55 gallons = 200 to 450 lbs.

Based on EPA’s standard volume-to-weight conversions.

Click on the industry sector listed below that best fits your business. For many sectors, you will see several methods of estimating SSOM, based on factors such as how many meals you serve, how many employees you have, or how much total waste your business generates. Cross-check different methods to get the best estimate of how much SSOM your business may generate.

Assisted Living Facilities

Colleges and Universities

Corporate Cafeterias

Correctional Facilities

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Hospitals

Lodging and Hotels

Restaurants

Supermarkets and Grocery Stores

Venues and Events

Assisted Living Facilities

 

Average

Measurement

Material

Meals Served

0.6

lbs/meal

SSOM

Food Served

20

% of food served by weight

SSOM

Beds1

1.8

lbs/bed/day

SSOM

Employees2

475

lbs/employee/year

SSOM

If you serve 1,667 meals in one week, then:
0.6 lbs/meal * 1,667 meals served/week = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

If you serve 5,000 lbs of food in one week, then:
20% of food served * 5,000 lbs served/week = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

If you have 80 beds, then:
1.8 lbs/bed/day * 80 beds = 144 lbs/day
144 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 1,008 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you have 110 employees, then:
475 lbs/employee/year * 110 employees = 52,250 lbs/year
52,250 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 1,004 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

1 This metric uses beds as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the nursing home by residents, staff, and visitors.

2 This metric uses the equivalent number of full-time employees as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the nursing home by residents, staff, and visitors.

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Colleges and Universities

Average

Measurement

Material

Meals Served

0.35

lbs/meal

SSOM

Students1 [Residential]

141.75

lbs/student/year

SSOM

Students2 [Non-Residential]

37.8

lbs/student/year

SSOM

If you have 212 students living on campus, then:
141.75 lbs/student/year * 212 residential students = 30,051 lbs/year
30,051 lbs/year ÷ 30 weeks/year = 1,002 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you have 800 students living off campus, then:
37.8 lbs/student/year * 800 non-residential students = 30,240 lbs/year
30,240 lbs/year ÷ 30 weeks/year = 1,008 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

Note: The equations based on number of students (above) assume a steady level of food consumption over a 30-week academic year. If this is not the case at your institution, the number of weeks should be adjusted to reflect your operations.

1 This metric assumes 405 meals per residential student per year.

2 This metric assumes 108 meals per non-residential student per year.

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Corporate Cafeterias

 

Average

Measurement

Material

Meals Served1

0.625

lbs/meal

SSOM

If you serve 1,600 meals in one week, then:
0.625 lbs/meal * 1,600 meals served/week = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

1 0.625 lbs/meal is the median of EPA Corporate Cafeterias average estimate (range 0.5-0.75 lbs/meal).

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Correctional Facilities

 

Average

Measurement

Material

Inmates

1

lbs/inmate/day

SSOM

Disposed Waste1

30

% of total generated waste by weight

SSOM

If you house 143 inmates, then:
1 lbs/meal * 143 inmates = 143 lbs/day
143 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 1,001 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 8 cubic yards twice per week, then:
250 lbs1/yd3 * (1 trash dumpster * 8 yd3/trash dumpster * 2 pickups/week) = 4,000 lbs of total disposed waste/week
4,000 lbs/week * 30% of total waste = 1,200 lbs/week = 0.6 ton of SSOM in one week

1 The equation based on weight of disposed waste assumes a weight of 250 lbs/yd3 waste. It is the lower range of the EPA’s standard conversion factor for uncompacted mixed MSW (residential, institutional, commercial): 1 yd3 mixed MSW = 250 to 300 lbs. You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

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Elementary and Secondary Schools

Note: CET now provides separate per-student estimates for elementary, middle, and high schools based on data from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The elementary and middle school per student estimates are higher than the 0.5 lbs/student/week metric from an earlier version of this tool. Anecdotal observations suggest that a combination of changes in the National School lunch program, shorter lunch periods, and more frequent breakfast in the classroom offerings have contributed to more SSOM, particularly in elementary schools. When estimating SSOM at your school, also take into account whether your school has a culinary education program, a centralized kitchen serving other locations, or serves a high percentage of students school lunch (rather than lunch brought from home), as these may result in more SSOM.

Average

Measurement

Material

Students [Elementary School]

1.13

lbs/student/week

SSOM

Students [Middle School]

0.73

lbs/student/week

SSOM

Students [High School]

0.35

lbs/student/week

SSOM

Disposed Waste1

45

% of disposed waste by weight

SSOM

If you have 885 elementary school students, then:
1.13 lbs/student/week * 885 students = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you have 1,370 middle school students, then:
0.73 lbs/student/week * 1,370 students = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you have 2,860 high school students, then:
0.35 lbs/student/week * 2,860 students = 1,001 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 10 cubic yards 1 time per week, then:
2501 lbs/yd3 * (1 trash dumpster * 10 yd3/trash dumpster * 1 pickup/week) = 2,500 lbs of total disposed waste/week
2,500 lbs * 45% of total waste = 1,125 lbs/week = 0.6 ton of SSOM in one week

 1 The equation based on weight of disposed waste assumes a weight of 250 lbs/yd3 waste. It is the lower range of the EPA’s standard conversion factor for uncompacted mixed MSW (residential, institutional, commercial): 1 yd3 mixed MSW = 250 to 300 lbs. You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

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Hospitals

 

Average

Measurement

Material

Meals Served

0.6

lbs/meal

SSOM

Food Served

30

% of food served by weight

SSOM

Beds1

3.42

lbs/bed/day

SSOM

Employees2

290

lbs/employee/year

SSOM

If you serve 1,667 meals in one week, then:
0.6 lbs/meal * 1,667 meals served/week = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

If you serve 3,333 lbs of food in one week, then:
30% of food served * 3,333 lbs served/week = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

If you have 42 beds, then:
3.42 lbs/bed/day * 42 beds = 144 lbs/day
144 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 1,008 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you have 180 full-time employees, then:
290 lbs/employee/year * 180 employees = 52,200 lbs/year
52,200 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 1,004 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

1 This metric uses beds as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the hospital by patients, staff, and visitors. 

2 290 lbs/employee/year is CalRecycle’s 2014 estimate. This metric uses the equivalent number of full-time employees for the entire hospital as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the hospital by patients, staff, and visitors.

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Lodging and Hotels

Average

Measurement

Material

Guests

1

lbs/person/day

SSOM

Rooms

345.64

lbs/room/year

SSOM

Disposed Waste1

36

% of disposed waste by weight

SSOM

Employees2

1,305

lbs/employee/year

SSOM

If you have 143 guests per day, then:
1 lbs/guest/day * 143 guests = 143 lbs/day
143 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 1,001 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you have 150 guest rooms, then:
345.64 lbs/room/year * 150 rooms = 51,846 lbs/year
51,846 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 997 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 6 cubic yards two times per week, then:
2501 lbs/yd3 * (1 trash dumpster * 6 yd3/trash dumpster * 2 pickups/week) = 3,000 lbs of total disposed waste/week
3,000 lbs * 36% of total waste = 1,080 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

If you have 40 employees, then:
1,305 lbs/employee/year * 40 employees = 52,200 lbs/year
52,200 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 1,004 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

1 The equation based on weight of disposed waste assumes a weight of 250 lbs/yd3 waste. It is the lower range of the EPA’s standard conversion factor for uncompacted mixed MSW (residential, institutional, commercial): 1 yd3 mixed MSW = 250 to 300 lbs. You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

2 This metric uses the equivalent number of full-time employees for the entire hotel as a proxy to account for all food waste generated across the hotel by staff, guests, and other patrons.

Tip: The Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA) has developed a Green Lodging Calculator that estimates environmental benefits and financial savings from various sustainable practices tailored to the hospitality industry.

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Restaurants

Note: CET now breaks out all forms of estimating SSOM by the NAICS code definition for limited and full-service restaurants. Limited-Service Restaurants (NAICS 722211) are defined as “establishments primarily engaged in providing food services … where patrons generally order or select items and pay before eating.” Full-Service Restaurants (NAICS 722511) are defined as “establishments primarily engaged in providing food services to patrons who order and are served while seated … and pay after eating. Actual SSOM generation rates within each of these categories can vary widely. Factors such as whether your establishment prepares food from scratch, offers buffet-style dining, or has mostly patrons that eat-in can contribute to higher amounts of SSOM. Take into account your restaurant’s operations when considering which metric to use.

Average

Measurement

Material

Meals Served [Full-Service]

1

lbs/meal

SSOM

Meals Served [Limited-Service]

0.5

lbs/meal

SSOM

Employees [Full-Service]

3,000

lbs/employee/year

SSOM

Employees [Limited-Service]

2,200

lbs/employee/year

SSOM

Disposed Waste1 [Full-Service]

66

% of disposed waste by weight

SSOM

Disposed Waste1 [Limited-Service]

51

% of disposed waste by weight

SSOM

If you are a full-service restaurant serving 1,000 meals in one week, then:
1 lbs/meal * 1,000 meals served/week = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you are a limited-service restaurant serving 2,000 meals in one week, then:
0.5 lbs/meal * 2,000 meals served/week = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you are a full-service restaurant with 17 employees, then:
3,000 lbs/employee/year * 17 full-time employees = 51,000 lbs SSOM generated/year
51,000 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 981 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you are a limited-service restaurant with 24 employees, then:
2,200 lbs/employee/year * 24 full-time employees = 52,800 lbs SSOM generated/year
52,800 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 1,015 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you are a full-service restaurant and fill 1 trash dumpster at 6 cubic yards 1 time per week, then:
2501 lbs/yd* (1 trash dumpster * 6 yd3/trash dumpster * 1 pickup/week) = 1,500 lbs of total disposed waste/week
1,500 lbs * 66% of total waste = 990 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

If you are a fast-food restaurant and fill 1 trash dumpster at 8 cubic yards 1 time per week, then:
2501 lbs/yd3 * (1 trash dumpster * 8 yd3/trash dumpster * 1 pickup/week) = 2,000 lbs of total disposed waste/week
2,000 lbs * 51% of total waste = 1,020 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

1 The equation based on weight of disposed waste assumes a weight of 250 lbs/yd3 waste. It is the lower range of the EPA’s standard conversion factor for uncompacted mixed MSW (residential, institutional, commercial): 1 yd3 mixed MSW = 250 to 300 lbs. You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

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Supermarkets and Grocery Stores

 

Average

Measurement

Material

Full-Time Employees

3,000

lbs/employee/yr

SSOM

Disposed Waste1

63

% of disposed waste by weight

SSOM

If you have 17 full-time employees, then:
3,000 lbs/employee/year * 17 full-time employees = 51,000 lbs SSOM generated/year
51,000 lbs/year ÷ 52 weeks/year = 981 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you fill 1 trash dumpster at 8 cubic yards 1 time per week, then:
2501 lbs/yd3 (1 trash dumpster * 8 yd3/trash dumpster * 1 pickup/week) = 2,000 lbs of total disposed waste/week
2,000 lbs * 63% of total waste = 1,260 lbs/week = 0.6 ton of SSOM in one week

1 The equation based on weight of disposed waste assumes a weight of 250 lbs/yd3 waste. It is the lower range of the EPA’s standard conversion factor for uncompacted mixed MSW (residential, institutional, commercial): 1 yd3 mixed MSW = 250 to 300 lbs. You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

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Venues and Events

Average

Measurement

Material

Seats

0.6

lbs/seat/day

SSOM

Meals Served

1

lbs/meal

SSOM

Visitors

0.45

lbs/visitor

SSOM

Disposed Waste1

25

% of disposed waste by weight

SSOM

For resorts and conference properties:

If you have 238 seats, then:
0.6 lbs/seat/day * 238 seats = 143 lbs/day
143 lbs/day * 7 days/week = 1,001 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM per week

If you serve 1,000 meals in one week, then:
1 lbs/meal * 1,000 meals served/week = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

For large venues and events2:

If you have 2,222 visitors in one week, then:
0.45 lbs/visitor * 2,222 visitors = 1,000 lbs = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

If you fill 2 trash dumpsters at 4 cubic yards 2 times per week, then:
2501 lbs/yd3 * (2 trash dumpsters * 4 yd3 * 2 pickups/week) = 4,000 lbs of total disposed waste/week
4,000 lbs * 25% of total waste = 1,000 lbs/week = 0.5 ton of SSOM in one week

1 The equation based on weight of disposed waste assumes a weight of 250 lbs/yd3 waste. It is the lower range of the EPA’s standard conversion factor for uncompacted mixed MSW (residential, institutional, commercial): 1 yd3 mixed MSW = 250 to 300 lbs. You may choose to change this number to best represent your operations.

2 Large venues and events include convention centers, stadiums, theme parks, performing art centers, movie theaters, fairgrounds, special event sites (e.g. parades, sporting events, festivals), and miscellaneous venues (e.g. museums, zoos).

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The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) developed this original Food Waste Estimation Guide under contract to MassDEP as part of MassDEP’s RecyclingWorks program. Although the information in this document has been funded wholly or in part by the Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement HC-00A00800-0 to the Center for EcoTechnology, it has not been subjected to the Agency’s publications review process and therefore, may not reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred. 

Sources for Business Sector Estimates

California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). Business Group Waste Stream Calculator. 2016
https://www2.calrecycle.ca.gov/WasteCharacterization/BusinessGroupCalculator.

Cascadia Consulting Group. Waste Disposal and Diversion Findings for Selected Industry Groups. No. 341-2006-0006. California Environmental Protection Agency, June 2006.
https://www2.calrecycle.ca.gov/Publications/Details/1184.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Waste Reduction and Recycling Guide for Florida Correctional Facilities. Kessler Consulting, Inc., Jan. 2004.
http://www.businessperformance.org/sites/default/files/finalprisonguide-72ppi.pdf.

Food Waste Reduction Alliance. Analysis of U.S. Food Waste Among Food Manufacturers, Retailers, and Wholesalers. BSR, Apr. 2013. http://www.foodwastealliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/FWRA_BSR_Tier2_FINAL.pdf.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Identification, Characterization, and Mapping of Food Waste and Food Waste Generators In Massachusetts. Draper/Lennon, Inc., Sept. 2002. https://www.mass.gov/doc/study-identification-characterization-mapping-of-food-waste-generators-in-massachusetts-2002/download.

U.S. EPA Region 1: Office of Administration and Resource Management. Updated Mapping of Food Residual Generation in Connecticut: Final Report – Spring 2012. 2012. https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DEEP/compost/compost_pdf/CTFoodResidualGeneratorReport2012pdf.pdf.

Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Interview by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 2013.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Estimating Quantities and Types of Food Waste at the City Level. October 2017. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/food-waste-city-level-report.pdf .

Nichols, P., C. Porter, L. Hammond, and B. Arjmandi. “Food Intake May Be Determined by Plate Waste in a Retirement Living Center.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102.8 (2002): 1142-144.

Northeast Waste Management Official’s Association (NEWMOA). From Behavior Change to Environmental Outcomes In Sustainable Hospitality: Metrics, Formulas, Variables, & Assumptions. June 2011. http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/projects/hospitality/   From_Behavior_Change_to_Environmental_Outcomes.pdf.

ReFED. A Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste by 20%. Report: Technical Appendix. 2016. https://www.refed.com/downloads/ReFED_Technical_Appendix.pdf.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Food Waste Management Cost Calculator. 2009. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-01/foodcost3.xls.

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Food Scrap Generator Database Calculations. May 2014. http://anrmaps.vermont.gov/websites/Organics/documents/FoodScrapGeneration_Calculations-Final.pdf.

Williams, Peter G., and Karen Walton. “Plate Waste in Hospitals and Strategies for Change.” E-SPEN – The European E-journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism 6th Ser. 6 (2011).

WRAP. Overview of waste in the hospitality and food service sector. November 2013. https://wrap.org.uk/resources/report/overview-waste-hospitality-and-food-service-sector.

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