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Solid Waste Management: Organics Recycling and Waste Diversion Focused on Food Residual

December 5, 2022

In 2021, Maryland passed House Bill 264 regarding Solid Waste Management for Food Residuals Organics Recycling and Waste Diversion (MD Food Residuals Bill). This bill requires certain entities that produce large amounts of food residuals to implement measures to separate these materials from other solid wastes and divert the food residuals from refuse disposal systems, such as landfills.

More specifically, the MD Food Residuals Bill applies to large food waste generators that fall under the categories of schools, supermarkets, businesses, institutional cafeterias, and food manufacturers, etc. Beginning January 1, 2023, an entity who generates at least two tons of food residuals each week will be required to separate and divert the specified food residual materials. On January 1, 2024, the requirements of the MD Food Residuals Bill will apply to entities that generate at least one ton of food residuals each week. However, these requirements to separate and divert food residuals is only required if the generation point of the material is located within 30 miles of a permitted organics recycling facility.  In addition, the permitted facility must have available capacity to receive and process new food residuals as well as enter into a contract with the generator for all of the generated material.

Organics management practices strive to reduce the amount of food residuals, yard waste or other organic materials within the residential and commercial waste streams through proper recycling and diversion practices.  The recycling, diversion, and/or further processing of food residuals can occur in a variety of manners that include, but are not limited to:  the initial reduction of material generation, identification and donation of edible / servable food, single or co-material composting, and agricultural or animal feeding applications. In addition, food residuals can be processed at anaerobic digestion, biochar, gasification, or other organics recycling facilities.

It is important to note that it is the generator’s responsibility to maintain proper documentation of the weight (tonnage) and type of food residuals generated for the required time intervals as well as any formal correspondence for acceptance and processing of the materials with the organics recycling facility.

Overall, the management of food residuals has the potential to: provide a food source if edible and servable, provide nutrients for agricultural uses, produce electricity or fuels under energy applications, and reduce greenhouse gases that can contribute to climate change.  Numerous states have passed bills and implemented rules and regulations regarding food residuals, food waste, and/or food scraps. Additional information on the pertinent regulations for some of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states are linked below:

This article is from members of the Sustainable Planning & Design and Environmental Practice Areas.