MACo submitted comments on the State’s draft zero waste plan on July 25. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the State’s Green House Gas Reduction Plan supports moving Maryland toward a “zero waste” policy and achieving a statewide 80% recycling rate and 85% waste diversion rate by 2040. In response, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released a draft zero waste plan in April, and invited stakeholder comments.
In its comments, MACo offered five broad principles as well as responding to numerous specific recommendations in the zero waste draft plan. The five principles include:
1. The State must provide financial resources dedicated to the zero waste policy. One of the key challenges counties have faced with recycling is that the State has mandated specific county goals but failed to provide adequate resources to help realize those goals. Implementing a zero waste policy will pose significant new costs on counties, many of which lack the necessary resources. The State must provide ongoing dedicated funding if zero waste is to be truly realized in Maryland.
2. Recycling and waste diversion regulations must be cost effective, flexible, and recognize unique local conditions. Many of the proposed zero waste initiatives will rely on infrastructure changes and the adoption of new technology. Zero waste regulations must recognize the costs these changes will create and not make implementation overly burdensome or expensive. Local flexibility is also paramount – the waste management challenges of Baltimore City are very different from those of the Eastern Shore. A “one size fits all” approach should be avoided.
3. All involved stakeholders must participate. If zero waste is to be successful in Maryland, counties cannot be expected to reach the State’s ambitious recycling and waste diversion goals alone. The effort will require participation from all involved stakeholders, including the commercial and retail sectors, municipalities, waste haulers and recyclers, and the State.
4. Ongoing consultation is critical. If zero waste is going to be successful, it is vital the State consult and collaborate with the counties and other stakeholders continuously. The consultation should not stop after the first version of the zero waste plan is adopted.
5. Further research on the costs and benefits of zero waste is needed, particularly as it pertains to Maryland. MACo feels that the draft plan does not provide sufficient research regarding some of its claims on the costs and benefits a zero waste policy would bring to Maryland. If zero waste is to be successful here, further cost/benefit analysis is needed so that a truly realistic and useful plan can be crafted.
MDE also hosted a local government stakeholders workgroup on July 29 that was attended by MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp as well as numerous county recycling and waste management officials. Based on feedback received from the participants, MDE plans to revise its draft over the next several months. MDE also plans to meet with business and environmental stakeholders as well.
For further information, please contact Les Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org / 410.269.0043.