Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery Executive Order

Executive Order 01.01.2017.13, Resource Recovery Plan for Maryland​

On June 27, 2017, Governor Hogan signed Executive Order 01.01.2017.13, Resource Recovery Plan for Maryland. The Order:

(1)      Adopts a first-ever sustainable materials management (SMM) policy for Maryland that aims to minimize the environmental impacts of the materials’ use throughout the entire lifecycle;

(2)      Emphasizes environmentally and economically sustainable methods to capture and reuse resources– including everything from metals and plastics to energy, nutrients, and soil;

(3)      Initiates a stakeholder consultation process to establish ambitious but achievable goals and to ensure tracking of complete materials management data;

(4)      Empowers new partnerships across State and local agencies, the agricultural, energy, and transportation sectors, environmental organizations, and recycling innovators;

Tasks specific State agencies with critical initiatives, such as siting, technical, and permitting assistance and demonstration of innovative recycling technologies.


Executive Order 01.01.2017.13 Goals and Measurements Recommendations​ (revised 05-16-19).  Following input received during the comment period, the final goals and metrics recommendations were published in April, 2019.  

What is Sustainable Materials Management (SMM)?

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SMM is a comprehensive way of thinking about how society uses materials. SMM involves understanding the flow of materials through the environment and economy, from the extraction of raw materials to the production, distribution, and consumption of products, and to the management of those products at end-of-life. This flow is known as the “lifecycle” of materials. SMM examines that lifecycle, often using a method known as “lifecycle analysis” or LCA, to identify ways to use materials more efficiently and in a manner that minimizes undesirable environmental impacts. SMM differs in approach from traditional solid waste and recycling programs, which focus primarily on the concept of “waste” – what happens to products at end-of-life. In addition to looking at materials throughout all lifecycle stages, SMM can also look more comprehensively at the environmental impacts of materials use, including impacts to greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, water and air quality, habitats, and the toxicity of chemicals in the environment. Finally, SMM seeks to support a strong and sustainable economy by preserving the value of recovered materials as useful, cost-effective inputs in the supply chain.

SMM is critical to the overall goal of protecting the environment. The consumption of materials is increasing globally and is responsible for a significant share of the impacts of humans on the environment. For example, a 2009 U.S. EPA report found that 42 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were associated with the provision of food and other goods (full report here). The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) notes that the extraction of raw materials worldwide increased by 65 percent between 1980 and 2007 (see he​re). SMM policies that reduce the need for raw material extraction can conserve not only the raw materials themselves, but the energy, water, and other resources needed to extract and transport them.

Increasingly, governments are using the principles of SMM to guide planning and policy efforts, and the private sector is using SMM concepts to inform everything from product and packaging design to new technologies for resource recovery.


Maryland’s SMM Policy

The 2017 Executive Order adopted the following SMM policy for Maryland:

“It is the policy of the State that solid waste and recycling planning should, to the extent practicable, seek to:

(1)      Minimize the environmental impacts of materials management over their entire life cycles, including from product design to production, consumption, and end-of-life management;

(2)      Conserve and extend existing in-State disposal capacity through source reduction, reuse, and recycling;

(3)      Capture and make optimal use of recovered resources, including raw materials, water, energy, and nutrients; and

(4)      Work toward a system of materials management that is both environmentally and economically sustainable in the long term.”


Maryland Department of the Environment’s Work on SMM

Maryland Statewide Waste Characterization Study

waste sort.jpgThe Department worked with the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority to conduct a statewide study of the types of wastes being disposed throughout Maryland. The final report from the study was published in July 2017. For the study, crews sorted samples of incoming waste at landfills and transfer stations throughout the State. The study provides important data to assist the Department and local governments in determining priority materials to target for SMM initiatives. The findings confirmed that organics – particularly food scraps – are one of the most disposed materials in the municipal waste stream. The study also showed that even some materials for which recycling is widely available – cardboard, for example – continue to be disposed in significant quantities, underscoring the need for more outreach​.
Read the full study here.​ 

Innovative Reuse of Dredged Materials and Other Soil and Fill Materia

The Executive Order calls for the Department to work with the Maryland Port Administration to publish technical screening criteria and guidance on the reuse of dredged materials. In August 2017, the Department published a guidance document, in consultation with the Maryland Port Administration, on the innovative and beneficial use of dredged materials, a fact sheet on the reuse of soil and fill materials generally, and a new cross-media dredged materials website.

SMM Goals and Metrics

The Executive Order calls for the Department to consult with stakeholders on the State’s methodology for tracking waste generation, recycling, and source reduction, and to (1) recommend to the Governor a method of obtaining business source reduction and recycling data; (2) establish an improved method of tracking the statewide recycling and source reduction rates; and (3) establish voluntary statewide goals to encourage continuous improvement of SMM. In 2017, the Department began meeting with stakeholders to obtain input on goals and methodologies. The final goals and metrics recommendations were pubished in April, 2019.

Working with State Agencies and the Private Sector

The Department has begun meeting with the state agencies named in the Executive Order to identify areas of collaboration on SMM. For example, the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Environment websites were adjusted to include information on business assistance and permitting assistance provided by the two agencies to better assist prospective recycling businesses

Plans for 2018

In 2018, the Department will continue working on SMM and the initiatives laid out in the Executive Order, including by: 
  • ​Continuing to consult with stakeholders on the goals and measurement part of the Order;
  • Recommending to the Governor improved measurement methods and new goals;
  • In accordance with the Order’s call for outreach directed at key materials, planning a regional Food Recovery Summit to provide outreach and information-sharing on diversion of food scraps;
  • Conducting a stakeholder workgroup and study on yard waste, food residuals, and other organic materials diversion and infrastructure (more information here);
  • Conducting a stakeholder workgroup to develop regulations governing recycling facilities, including to clarify when a refuse disposal permit is not required for recycling facilities (more information here); and
  • Meeting with additional State agencies and private sector groups working on SMM to identify further areas of collaboration.


How to Get Involved

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