From Trash Incineration to Zero Waste in Maryland
How communities across Maryland handle their solid waste has enormous impacts on local air quality, municipal budgets, and contributions to climate change. Both landfills and incinerators contribute greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and incinerators emit toxins that contribute to cancer and more diseases in surrounding communities. But alternatives to landfilling and incineration, like composting and source reduction, can reduce costs, create more local jobs, reduce air pollution, and even sequester carbon. This year, we’re working on a set of bills to stop incentivizing trash incineration, and start promoting composting:
- Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard continues to define burning trash as clean energy and subsidize it like wind and solar, and the passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act in 2019 made even more subsidies available to trash incineration. Trash incineration must be removed from Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to stop burning our money away, propping up a polluting industry, and allow truly renewable energy sources to grow in Maryland.
- Maryland’s recycling definitions allow toxic incinerator ash to be counted as “recycled” when it’s used to cover landfills, providing an extra subsidy and incentive for trash incineration. HB0179 changes this definition so that trash incinerators will treat their toxic waste as what it is: toxic waste.
- Ensuring that organic waste - food scraps, yard waste, compostable paper and plastic products, etc - is diverted away from trash incineration and landfilling to composting can save municipalities money, build healthy soils on farmland, sequester carbon when used in regenerative agriculture practices, and even create new local businesses in communities across Maryland. Legislation to require large producers of organic waste to compost will support the already-existing local movements developing at-scale compost infrastructure across our state.