Lawmakers Seeking to Reduce Waste with Composting Bill

Mar 22, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine_ There's a better place for all those eggshells, coffee grounds, and muffin stumps. That's the gist of a bill before the legislature that seeks to encourage the composting or transformation of organic waste, instead of having those items chucked into the bin.

"Organic waste when it's put in the landfill, will just decompose and it releases greenhouse gases such as methane gas," says Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, "There's really no good reason for it to be in there, because it could go to much better use being composted or being used for energy."

LD 659, presented by Democratic Representative Joan Welsh of Rockport, and co-sponsored by Republican Senator Tom Saviello of Wilton, notes that the State of Maine failed to meet its own goal of recycling 50% of its solid waste by 2014, a goal set back in 1989.

A study conducted by the University of Maine in 2011 concluded that more than 40% of waste generated in the state is organic in nature, with lesser amounts accounted for by paper and plastic. Lakeman at NRCM says tackling the organic component will help the state meet its waste recycling goals.

The bill specifically calls on the Department of Environmental Protection to devise a strategy to encourage composting and energy recovery from food and organic wastes by January 15, 2016.  It would apply to a variety of household and farm wastes, but not medical waste or sewage.

A public hearing on the bill is set for Monday before the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.