Senator Saviello, Representative Welsh, 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. I appreciate this opportunity to testify in support of LD 947.
This Committee has an important and challenging task of developing policies that will guide the State’s efforts to reduce waste, increase recycling, and manage our landfills as the finite resources that they are. Many of you have participated in extensive discussions with a broad range of stakeholders during which two themes keep emerging: One is that we need to do a better job focusing on the upper tiers of our waste management hierarchy—reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost. And the other is that we need to find a funding mechanism to support these efforts. NRCM strongly supports LD 947 because we believe it would provide an effective and simple way to simultaneously address both of these issues.
The concept proposed in LD 947 is simple: it would strike existing exemptions on waste-handling fees for landfilled waste, and direct the generated funds to support recycling and composting in the State. The bill would help promote the top tiers of the hierarchy by providing a disincentive to generate waste, and by creating a substantial, long-term funding source to support recycling and composting efforts. This is not a new idea. In fact, DEP’s 2009 report titled “Proposal to Strengthen Maine’s Recycling Efforts” concluded that the basic approach presented in LD 947 would be the best strategy for reaching our state’s recycling and waste reduction goals. NRCM agrees.
During the weeks ahead, this committee will have important discussions about what the State can do to help encourage recycling and composting, and reduce landfilling. NRCM urges you to keep this idea on the table and consider developing it into a bill, or incorporating it into another piece of legislation.
NRCM supports LD 947 because aligns well with our solid waste management hierarchy and would create a simple, fair, long-term funding source to support increased recycling and composting in Maine. Thank you for your consideration of these comments. I would be glad to answer any questions you may have.
 LD 947 would remove the exemptions for an existing $2/ton handling fee on MSW. According to DEP’s Waste Generation and Capacity Report for 2013, there are around 200,000 tons of MSW disposed in landfills annually. The funds accumulated to support recycling and composting projects in the state could total around $400,000 per year—but this amount would go down over time as tons of landfilled MSW decreases.