Maryland executive order could encourage expansion of AD systems

By Erin Voegele | January 16, 2015

On Jan. 13, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley issued an executive order that aims to nearly eliminate the disposal of waste within the state. The order, which is effectively immediately, could encourage wider deployment of anaerobic digestion systems in Maryland.

A statement released by the governor’s office explains the executive order affirms statewide waste reduction goals, directs the state government to increase recycling, composting, and waste diversion. It also directs the government to limit new or expanded municipal and land clearing debris landfills that help drive innovation and achieve these goals.

“While we know that climate change is real, and Maryland is vulnerable, we also know that we can take steps to ensure the sustainability of our Maryland communities and our environment,” O’Malley said. “Today’s action is the right thing to do for our environment – and it creates opportunities for the jobs and business activity that we need to ensure the environmental and financial health of our communities.  By limiting sources of waste, and by recycling, reusing, and composting the remaining waste, we are creating a more sustainable world for our children and their children.”

One component of the executive order specifies Maryland will aim to achieve 85 percent waste diversion and 80 recycling by 2040. In addition, the state government will be subject to a mandatory recycling rate of 65 percent by 2020 and will divert at least 60 percent of its organic waste through recycling, composting or anaerobic digestion by 2020.

Information included in the executive order explains Maryland’s Zero Waste Plan was issued last year after extensive consultation with businesses, local governments, non-profits, and individual citizens. The plan outlines cost-effective strategies to nearly eliminate disposal of waste in Maryland by 2040. The plan, available on the Maryland Department of the Environment website, highlights the role anaerobic digestion can play in meeting those goals. 

The executive order also states that with the exception of permit applications submitted to the MDE before Jan. 19, the department will not issue a permit for any new municipal or land clearing debris landfill capacity in Maryland. A full copy of the executive order can be downloaded from the governor’s website.