MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp supported a yard and food waste composting and diversion study bill (SB 99) with amendments before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on January 24. The bill is sponsored by Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton.
The bill requires the Maryland Department of the Environment, in consultation with MACo and numerous other stakeholders, to make recommendations regarding a ways to increase use of composting and diversion of food and yard waste in the state. In his testimony, Knapp noted MACo’s general support of composting and anaerobic digestion technologies but also requested five amendments that would both modify and expand the study’s scope. From the MACo testimony:
MACo has generally supported creating a regulatory climate that makes composting and anaerobic digestion practical activities in the state while not simply placing new mandates on county governments. As the bill acknowledges, flexible options are needed because, given Maryland’s diverse geography and demographics, a “one size fits all” approach will not yield successful results. …
The five changes would have the study:
- Identify the infrastructure needs and challenges related to yard waste and food residuals composting and diversion unique to the different geographic regions of the state;
- Identify any applicable sanitary and public health concerns related to yard waste and food residuals composting and diversion;
- Develop, 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 instead of having MDE assume a land use role by making such identifications itself;
- Consider a refuse disposal fee instead of automatically recommending such a fee; and
- Receive the approval of the affected local governments before recommending a pilot food waste recovery program in the Elkridge and Jessup area.
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, American Biogas Council, Sierra Club, and Maryland-Delaware Solid Waste Association also testified in support of the bill with similar or complimentary amendments. Senator Middleton stated during his testimony that he was confident the various amendments could be worked out. No one testified in opposition to the bill.