BALTIMORE, MD (November 14, 2003) – Fifteen years ago, 90 percent of the solid waste generated in Maryland went into landfills. The state’s recycling rate was an unimpressive 10 percent.
During 2002, however, Maryland’s waste diversion rate was almost 40 percent, and the state is approaching an important recycling goal nearly three years ahead of schedule. The target date for achieving the voluntary goal of 40 percent – 35 percent from recycling, the other five credit for source reduction – is 2005.
“This is an achievement of which everyone can be proud,” said Kendl P. Philbrick, the acting secretary of the environment. “For the Erhlich-Steele administration, protecting and improving the environment is a top priority, and recycling is an effective way to reduce our impact on the environment.”
Philbrick said that Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) figures show a waste diversion rate for calendar 2002 of 39.5 percent, a combination of a 37 percent recycling rate and a 2.5 percent source reduction activities credit.
The source reduction credit was created by the General Assembly in 2002 to encourage counties to foster good recycling practices and waste reduction at the source among citizens, businesses and government. The maximum credit is five percent.
“Marylanders continue to show tremendous support for recycling in their neighborhoods and their businesses,” Philbrick said. “Recycling is one way for all of us to participate in stewardship of the environment. It helps conserve our natural resources and creates a safer, cleaner environment for our children.”
Nearly 2.5 million tons of solid waste was diverted by citizens from landfills by recycling during 2002, an increase of almost 51,000 tons over 2001. In addition, businesses, county road departments and the State Highway Administration diverted nearly 3 million additional tons of such materials as concrete, asphalt, construction and demolition debris and scrap metal. The inclusion of these materials increased Maryland’s recycling rate to 42 percent.
“Recycling saves residents money by extending the life of existing landfills and it helps businesses to reduce their disposal costs,” Philbrick said. The acting secretary added that Maryland is leading the way in finding solutions to emerging waste management issues.
For example, MDE has worked closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, other Mid-Atlantic states, local governments and electronics manufacturers on a pilot electronics recycling (eCycling) project. Through a combination of special one- or two-day collection events at landfills and retail stores, curbside collection and permanent drop-off sites, more than 1,431 tons of electronics have been recycled in Maryland since collection began two years ago.