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Yard Waste, Food Residuals and More...

MRN Participates in MDE Study Group

On Wednesday, January 24, MDE hosted the inaugural meeting of the Yard Waste, Food Residuals, and Other Organic Materials Diversion and Infrastructure - Study Group established by MD House Bill 171 which passed in 2017. Briefly, this bill requires MDE, in consultation with a wide range of industry organizations, to study and make recommendations regarding specified matters that relate to the diversion of yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials from refuse disposal facilities, including the status of infrastructure in the State. The bill calls for a final report of the findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly by July 1, 2019. MRN has been designated as a member of the study group and is officially represented by MRN past president, Chaz Miller.

In a series of meetings, the study group will examine ten specific areas enumerated in the bill. They include the following:

  • study the diversion of yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials from refuse disposal facilities in the State, including any State laws or regulations governing the diversion of yard waste, food residuals, or other organic materials;
  • study the laws and regulations of other states, including the laws and regulations of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, California, and Rhode Island, governing the diversion of yard waste, food residuals, or other organic materials;
  • review the status of infrastructure for the diversion of yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials in the State and other states, including the availability of infrastructure in relation to:

(i) large generators of food waste, identified by type, quantity of food waste generated by entity, and geographic distribution; and

(ii) organizations that use surplus food, identified by type and geographic distribution;

  • identify the infrastructure needs and challenges related to yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials composting and diversion that are unique to the different geographic regions of the State;
  • identify the current process for permitting anaerobic digestion facilities and recommend improvements that should be made to the anaerobic digestion permitting process;
  • identify any applicable sanitary and public health concerns related to yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials composting and diversion;
  • identify means to encourage investment in infrastructure and provide economic incentives to expand capacity for yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials diversion in the State, including:

(i) the development of, in consultation with local governments, model guidelines and best practices for the local identification of properties or development zones where diversion infrastructure may be developed; and

(ii) the identification of any tax, grant, or other incentives that already exist to encourage and support infrastructure and economic development;

  • explore ways to promote composting of yard waste and food residuals and other methods of organic waste reduction and diversion, including ways to encourage:

(i) a decentralized and diverse infrastructure; and

(ii) the prevention of organic waste generation;

  • subject to the approval of the affected local governments, recommend a pilot program for the region in which Elkridge and Jessup are located to prioritize infrastructure development and food waste recovery from large food waste generators; and
  • recommend measures to promote the diversion of yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials in the State, including any necessary programmatic, legislative, or regulatory changes.

During the initial meeting, the study group reviewed the overall scope of work, confirmed general operating procedures, then briefly began a discussion around the first topic, Maryland laws and regulations governing the diversion of yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 19. The ongoing work of the study group will be shared on the Organics Diversion and Composting page of MDE’s website. We will also share key findings on MRN’s website and through our periodic newsletter. Stay tuned!