By Richard Keller, Department of Public Works and Transportation

Photo of a recycled napkin with the text made from 100 percent recycled materials

On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed House Bill 164 (sponsored by Delegates Dana Stein and Brooke Lierman) and Senate Bill 116 (sponsored by Senators Cheryl Kagan, Christopher West, and Katie Fry Hester), which establish a recycling market development program for Maryland.

The program will be led by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). The Department will coordinate the program with the Departments of Commerce, General Services and Transportation, the Maryland Environmental Service, the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority, local governments and private organizations.

Market development is integral to creating stable, long-term markets for recyclables. Recycling does not occur until a manufacturer uses recyclable material to make a new product and someone uses that recycled content product. Until this happens, the recycling process is incomplete, and the recyclable material collected will still need disposal.

The new law encourages Maryland businesses to use recyclable materials, offers opportunities for new recycling businesses, and expands state “buy recycled” programs. These efforts will make Maryland a leader not only in the nation, but a leader for the private sector as well.

The new law establishes MDE as the lead agency for this effort and encourages cooperation with other departments and organizations on expanding markets for recycled materials and recycled products. The law requires MDE to evaluate current markets, make recommendations to improve markets, target materials that need market development, encourage existing businesses to use more recycled materials, examine funding mechanisms, develop an advertising campaign to attract new recycling businesses, and provide technical support for recycling markets and recycled products. The goal of the legislation is to let the private sector know that “Maryland is Open for Recycling Business.”

Photo of a stack of towels with a tag stating made with 100 percent recycled fabric

Collecting more materials alone will not move the needle on recycling rates. The new law will help create a demand (market) driven effort to increase the level of recycling in the state and keep materials out of disposal. The law is designed to get more businesses to use recyclable materials and to attract new businesses to use such materials. The market development program will build on the State’s “buy recycled” efforts (where we have been a national leader since 1977) to buy and use more recycled products.

Baltimore County welcomes this important legislation, which will help extend our landfill life for future generations, limit incineration, reduce the use of energy and raw materials and lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Read more about it on Waste Dive.