Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, my name is Sarah Lakeman and I am the Sustainable Maine Project Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). I appreciate this opportunity to speak to you neither for nor against LD 112.
There are two distinct sections of this bill: Part A, which proposes changes to the terms and conditions surrounding landfilled waste in our state; and Part B, which proposes reporting requirements for recycling activities in our state. NRCM has significant concerns with Part A, but is fully supportive of Part B.
Concerns with Part A:
Juniper Ridge Landfill (JRL) is a valuable asset to the state of Maine. We are very concerned that the fill-rate has increased by almost 32 percent since 2012. This rapid fill-rate precipitated the recent and flawed State issuance of permits that allow for landfill expansion. We believe that the Legislature needs to act to reduce the fill-rate at JRL so that we can prolong the life of this asset, and also provide more statutory guidance that the Department of Environmental Protection can refer to when making any permitting decisions going forward.
NRCM testified in strong support of LD 401, which sought to address these concerns, among others; and we understand the LD 112 is a vehicle to address some of the concepts provided in LD 401. We are supportive of all aspects of Part A aside from two glaring failures: it still would allow for waste generated out-of-state to be disposed of at JRL; and it would still allow for material placed in a landfill to be classified as “recycling.”
For reference, 88% of the material accepted at the ReEnergy facility in Lewiston was delivered from out-of-state in 2013, and after some processing at the facility, ReEnergy then sent 97% of their material to JRL. And because of the misleading definition of in-state waste, the landfill operator was able to “verify” that no out-of-state waste entered the landfill that year.
We urge the Committee to address these two flaws in LD 112:
- Amend such that no material placed in a landfill is characterized as “recycling.” On page 4 of LD 112, there is a paragraph that would add this problematic language:
This sentence makes no sense. NRCM does not believe that any material placed into a landfill should be classified as recycling and used to meet the standard that a solid waste processing facility must meet (a recycling rate of no less than 50%). If a solid waste processing facility cannot meet the standard of diverting at least 50% of the material that it processes from a landfill, then we question what the purpose of the processing facility is. We urge the Committee to update this paragraph such that no material placed in a landfill can be classified as “recycling” by a solid waste processing facility.
“At least 50% of the waste that a solid waste processing facility characterizes as recycled under this subparagraph must have been reused or recycled by the facility through methods other than placement of the waste in a solid waste landfill”
- Amend such that no waste generated from out-of-state may be placed in a State-owned landfill. On the bottom of page 4 of LD 112, there is a paragraph that seemingly already makes this clear; but the problem is that the definition of “waste generated within the state” beginning on page 3 lists four distinct ways that waste can be generated within the state—three of which include waste that actually originated out-of-state.NRCM does not have a problem with the definition, since it makes sense for any non-State-owned disposal facility that can legally import out-of-state waste; but we believe that the waste going into a State-owned disposal facility (such as JRL) should only accept waste that was truly generated within the state. We urge the Committee to update this paragraph so that only part A of the definition for “waste generated within the state,” states that it is “waste initially generated within the state.”If the Committee amends the bill this way, then we believe another provision to this bill is needed: Make clear that any solid waste processing facility that disposes of waste at a State-owned disposal facility cannot dispose of more waste there than it accepts as “waste initially generated within the state”—which is Part A of the definition of “waste generated within the state” on page 3.
Support for Part B:
Maine needs more accurate and complete data to measure the state’s recycling and waste generation rates because we can’t manage what we can’t measure. Currently, data used in calculating the statewide recycling and diversion rates are based on voluntary reporting by municipalities and others, and a better way to ensure accurate information would be to regularly obtain data from recycling establishments managing reportable recyclable materials generated in Maine. This would also decrease the annual solid waste reporting requirements on municipalities. For these reasons we fully support Part B of LD 112.
NRCM understands the gravity of this legislation, which is why we feel that it is imperative to get it right by addressing the concerns we raised above. LD 112 is a step in the right direction, but if this bill passes without our proposed changes we are concerned that these issues will continue to plague our state for years to come. That is why we are neither-for-nor-against this legislation in its entirety.
Thank you for your time and consideration, I’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
 See attachments for excerpts from 2013 ReEnergy and JRL Annual Reports