Three recycling bills on which MACo took a position are poised to pass the General Assembly with MACo support with amendments that removed MACo’s opposition.
Recycling – Regulation of Recycling Facilities: HB 124 requires the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to adopt regulations governing recycling facilities, in consultation with MACo and other key stakeholders. The regulations would allow for a tiered system of permits to cover different sizes and types of recycling facilities. The bill also alters the definition of “solid waste.”
MACo Position: MACo supported the bill with amendments, noting that recycling facilities are handling increasing amounts of unrecyclable solid waste through the single stream process, they are at risk of needing a solid waste disposal permit – an expensive and cumbersome requirement that was never intended to apply to them. HB 124 would allow MDE to adopt a tiered system of permits that allow for more appropriate regulation of these facilities. The MACo amendment excluded residential recycling drop-off facilities, as they simply serve as collection points for recyclable materials and do not actually handle or process materials beyond collecting and shipping them to a recycling facility.
STATUS: The House passed HB 124 with the MACo amendment and an amendment removing the quantity of material managed as a criteria for MDE to consider when establishing the tiered system of permits. The Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee will hear the bill on March 23.
Recycling – Yard, Food, and Organic Waste Composting Study: HB 171 / SB 99 requires MDE to conduct a study regarding the diversion and composting of yard waste and food residuals. The study must include: (1) identification properties or development zones where diversion infrastructure may be developed; (2) tax or other incentives to promote composting; (3) a recommendation for a refuse disposal fee that would finance a grant program to assist with composting infrastructure; and (4) a recommendation on necessary programmatic, legislative, or regulatory changes to encourage composting.
MACo Position: MACo supported the bill with five amendments that 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 areas.
STATUS: HB 171 and SB 99 each passed their respective houses with the MACo amendments (the refuse disposal fee language was deleted in its entirety) and several other stakeholder amendments MACo had no issue with. HB 171 will be scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. SB 99 will be heard by the House Environment and Transportation Committee on March 22.
Recycling – Special Events: HB 1309 / SB 885 as introduced would require a county and municipal government that issues a special event permit to also enforce recycling requirements at the event. The bill also lowers the threshold for the application of special events recycling requirements from 200 people to 100 people, increases the civil penalties for violating the recycling requirements, and makes the amount of the penalty contingent on attendance.
MACo Position: MACo opposed the bill, noting the cost and implementation issues of the local enforcement mandate, the problematic expansion of “special events” by lowering the attendance threshold from 200 to 100 people, and challenges in enforcing the civil penalties due to a lack of reliable attendance data.
STATUS: HB 1309 and SB 885 passed their respective houses with identical amendments removing MACo’s opposition. As amended, the bill: (1) Requires the State, county, municipality, or other local government to provide the organizer of a special event a written statement that describes the requirements and penalties for special event recycling; and (2) increases the civil penalty from failing to recycle at a special event from $50 per day to $300 per day. HB 1309 will be scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. SB 885 will be heard by the House Environment and Transportation Committee on March 29.