Maryland's 46.1% Waste Diversion Rate
The recycling rate plus the source reduction (SR) credit make up the waste diversion rate. Through the efforts of its citizens, businesses and government agencies, Maryland achieved a statewide waste diversion rate of 46.1% in calendar year (CY) 2021. The 46.1% waste diversion rate was composed of a 42.5% Maryland Recycling Act (MRA) recycling rate and a 3.6% SR credit. This exceeds the requirements of the MRA and the 40% waste diversion goal targeted for 2005. Figure 1 provides a historical breakdown of Maryland's waste diversion rate.
Maryland's 42.5% Recycling Rate
In CY 2021, Maryland residents and businesses recycled 42.5 percent ((MRA recycling tonnage + resource recovery facility credit) ÷
(MRA recycling tonnage + MRA waste disposed)) of the municipal solid waste generated. The resource recovery facility (RRF) credit is provided under the MRA in Environment Article, §9-1703(d),
Annotated Code of Maryland. The provision specifies that a 5% recycling credit applies to each county that “achieves a reduction of at least 5 percent in the volume of its waste through the utilization of one or more resource recovery facilities in operation as of January 1, 1988.” To encourage more recycling, states across the country are seeking new ways (e.g., Single Stream Recycling, Pay-As-You-Throw Programs, etc.) to ensure that recycling continues to gain in popularity as a waste management option. Many states, including Maryland, are investigating new commodities to bring into the recycling stream, while continuing to promote the benefits of recycling.
summarizes the recycling tonnages since 1992 and Figure 3 categorizes the total MRA tons recycled by material in CY 2021. Compostables, and paper materials constituted the largest portion of materials recycled (miscellaneous materials are comprised of multiple materials, the largest being municipal incinerator ash at over 62% of the total miscellaneous materials).
MDE encourages the recycling of all materials because of the environmental and economic benefits that recycling provides. The 2021 County Commodity Chart details recycling and waste diversion rates for each of Maryland's
jurisdictions. Business and local governments continue to seek recycling opportunities above and beyond those that apply toward the MRA rate. In fact, over 3.9 million tons of other Non-MRA materials were reported as being recycled in 2021. The Recycling of Non-MRA Materials in Tons table offers a breakdown by category of the amount of Non-MRA materials reported recycled in 2021. For a complete overview on how solid waste is managed in Maryland, please refer to the annual Solid Waste Management and Diversion report.
Maryland’s 3.6% Source Reduction Credit
In 2021, eleven Counties were able to add from 1% to 5% to their waste diversion rate by emphasizing SR activities as a waste reduction strategy, see 2021 Source Reduction Summary. They accomplished this utilizing Internet resources, demonstration sites (i.e., backyard food waste and yard waste composting), and publications on reuse practices and yard waste reduction. A complete list of SR activities and a breakdown of Maryland SR activities is available in the “Source Reduction” section.
Non-profit groups are partnering with government to increase awareness of source reduction and reuse opportunities for materials such as linens, pet supplies, medical equipment, clothing and computers. The partnering provides businesses information on how to improve their bottom line through recycling and SR. As counties learn from their successful colleagues, even more SR programs are expected.
Maryland Department of the Environment
Land Management Administration
Waste Diversion and Utilization Program
1800 Washington Blvd., Suite 610
Baltimore, MD 21230-1719
Email - Request for Information