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Maryland Department of Environment Prepares to Implement Governor Larry Hogan’s Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery Plan
New Policy Provides Shot in Arm to Private Sector, Will Boost Recycling Rate in Maryland
BALTIMORE (June 30, 2017) — In signing the Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery Plan Executive Order this week, Governor Larry Hogan put Maryland on the fast track to enhanced sustainable materials management and beneficial reuse while rescinding the Zero Waste Plan for Maryland Executive Order of January 2015.
“We support zero waste but not zero collaboration,” Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said. “This new Executive Order lays out a path for even better results and a greater emphasis on sustainable materials management and beneficial reuse. That means aggressive but achievable goals by coordinating with local decision-makers, businesses, and environmental stakeholders — rethinking our approach so we can turn waste into wealth and boost our recycling rates like never before.”
Governor Hogan’s executive order contains five new actions with the Department of the Environment that will improve resource recovery:
- A technical partnership with Department of Commerce to help establish new recycling businesses in Maryland;
- A partnership with Department of Agriculture to provide research and demonstration of innovative nutrient recovery technologies to facilitate adoption of these technologies;
- A partnership with the Maryland Energy Administration to research and promote adoption of energy recovery technologies, such as anaerobic digestion;
- A partnership with the Department of Transportation to provide guidance which will increase the reuse of dredged materials, including by State agencies; and
- Outreach partnerships with stakeholders to increase awareness of the benefits of and opportunities for waste diversion.
The Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery Plan is a comprehensive, collaborative approach to materials management and takes into account the full life cycle of materials, while the older concept of zero waste focuses too narrowly on the end-of-life portion of material life cycles and imposing top-down goals.
The plan aligns with current administration priorities such as adaptation to climate change, clean energy, water conservation, optimal use of nutrients, and innovation. It also focuses on tracking complete materials management data and optimal use of each resource — even if it does not increase the recycling rate — to protect the environment. For example, healthy, edible surplus food should be used to feed Marylanders in need, before considering composting or disposal.
“It’s a better way toward real environmental progress, a life-cycle approach to managing materials,” Secretary Grumbles said, adding that it emphasizes environmentally and economically sustainable methods to capture and reinvest resources into Maryland’s economy, including everything from metals and plastics to energy, nutrients, and soil and to more fully capture business data.
The Department of the Environment continues to work on many of the objectives in the zero waste plan. Those include establishing multi-family and event recycling, finalizing and implementing new composting regulations and publishing composting facility guidance, encouraging food donation before composting or disposal, studying and updating source reduction credits, collaborating across agencies on business and market development, increasing environmentally preferable procurement and management of electronics and other materials, and conducting a waste study to target materials that can most easily be diverted from disposal.
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