Making Maryland “Open for Recycling Business”

On January 15, 2021, MRN board members Chaz Miller and Richard Keller, Baltimore County’s Acting Recycling and Waste Prevention Manager, testified at the House Environment and Transportation Committee hearing in support of HB0164 Department of the Environment – Office of Recycling – Recycling Market Development. The Bill requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Office of Recycling “to promote the development of markets for recycled materials and products in the State.” MDE will work in coordination with local governments and the private sector to create a recycling market development program to increase Maryland’s market share and attract new recycling businesses. Miller testified on behalf of MRN and Keller testified on behalf of Baltimore County.

HB164, previously approved in House in 2020 (33-0) under HB1452, is co-sponsored by Delegate Dana Stein and Delegate Brooke Lierman. Both noted that there is broad support across industries and no serious objections to the bill have been submitted.

Keller along with Charlie Reighart also testified on January 21 during the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee hearing regarding the Senate version SB0116 sponsored by Senator Cheryl C. Kagan and Senator Chris West.

Here are three key points made during the testimonies:

Market development must be the centerpiece of Maryland’s efforts to increase recycling.

The benefits of a strong recycling program are numerous including reducing waste disposal, creating jobs, conserving resources, reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, etc. However, to be truly successful, recycling programs depend on stable, long-term markets for the raw materials collected and processed. And with China’s stringent contamination requirements limiting its imports on recyclables, the need to develop these markets domestically has never been more important. Maryland has long been a leader in the “buy recycled” efforts since 1977; with a comprehensive market development plan, Maryland can be a leader in these efforts as well.

HB 164 provides the tools to improve the markets for Maryland’s recyclables.

Collecting more materials alone will not move the needle on recycling rates; there also needs to be a demand or market-driven effort to expand the use of recyclables and manufacturing to build on Maryland’s successful “buy recycled” efforts. Working with a number of state and local agencies and the private sector, MDE will evaluate current markets thus targeting those markets that need development, examine potential funding and mechanisms for new businesses, and encourage existing Maryland businesses to use recyclable materials while expanding recycling programs throughout the state.

HB 164 lets manufacturers know that Maryland is open for recycling business.

More than 20 states already have active market development programs that have expanded their recycling programs and manufacturing capacity in addition to creating jobs and increasing their share of the recycling market. To compete, the bill will also establish a promotional campaign to attract new recycling businesses to Maryland and begin moving Maryland to the forefront of the recycling business.

Also testifying during the House hearing was Ellen Valentino of MD/DE/DC Beverage Association, Alex Butler of MACo, and Pam Kasemeyer of Maryland Delaware Solid Waste Association. During the Senate hearing, additional testimony was provided by Sara Price of MD Retailers Association and Adam Ortiz of Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. Several other organizations also submitted written testimony supporting the bill.

Update: On 2/11, HB 164 passed the House by 133-2; on 2/3, SB 116 passed the Senate by 46-0.

About MRN Legislative Committee

The MRN Legislative Committee advocates on behalf of the Maryland recycling community to ensure that legislative initiatives achieve their stated goals in a cost- and time-effective manner without creating unintended consequences that hobble our mission to promote a healthy, sustainable environment. Each legislative session, the Committee meets with legislators and provides comments and levels of support for applicable bills. It is through the Committee’s excellent work that MRN has been given a voice on these issues. Learn more about MRN Legislative efforts here.

Updated 1/22/2021