Maryland sets "zero waste" goal

Maryland sets "zero waste" goal for 2030

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

As part of an effort to significantly curb statewide greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decade, Maryland recently set some lofty goals when it comes to diverting what residents send to landfills.

The state's "Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan" aims to create an 85 percent reduction in solid waste by 2030. To achieve that level, state number crunchers are relying on significant recycling boosts: The state wants to raise its overall recycling rate to 50 percent by 2015, 60 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2030. The report says the state's current recycling rate is just over 40 percent.

The greenhouse gas plan serves to explain how the state can cut its overall emissions by 25 percent by 2020, a directive that Gov. Martin O'Malley laid out in 2009. Through reducing what goes to landfills and enacting other waste-oriented measures, including relying more on waste-to-energy facilities, the state claims it can cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 4.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. Such reductions in the waste realm account for around 8 percent of the total greenhouse gas emission cuts spelled out in the plan.

To increase recycling rates, the plan focuses primarily on facilitating food scraps composting and pushing for more recycling-oriented legislation, including a bottle bill. The report points out that, currently, just over 5 percent of food scraps in the state are composted but that regulatory changes and increased access and education for residents could increase the number significantly. On the beverage container recovery front, the report states 60 percent of beverage containers in the state are currently disposed of or tossed as litter, so there is clearly space for progress.

To read more on the plan's recycling-related initiatives, click here and scroll to page 175.

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