Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has axed the zero-waste guidelines put into place by his predecessor that set a statewide diversion goal of 85% by 2040, saying the guidelines were “last-minute, ill-conceived and poorly devised.” Hogan says he will instead focus on a “common-sense, balanced approach to managing waste in Maryland,” reported the Baltimore Sun.
Hogan also said that the rules “created unnecessary hardships for local governments.” The zero-waste landfill rules were put into place by Gov. Martin O’Malley just days before he left office in 2015, in response to reports that people in the state were throwing away more trash than the typical American.
O’Malley had called it an “ambitious policy framework” that would create “green jobs and business opportunities,” as well as diverting more waste from landfill and significantly improving the state’s recycling rate. But Hogan, in doing away with his predecessor’s rules, called it “burdensome regulation.” He said the state would focus on more achievable recycling goals.
Most states have set either mandatory or voluntary recycling goals; the national recycling average stands at 35%. But some, like Colorado, have never set goals, which appears to seriously hamper recycling rates. In Colorado, for example, the statewide recycling rate stands at just 12%, according to a recent article in Waste 360.
While state-level support of waste and recycling goals can play a valuable role in the country’s progress toward zero waste and a truly circular economy, many cities are also taking a lead. Boston, for example, is planning to cut down its $37 million annual waste hauling costs by pursuing zero waste. The city hired a consultant who will conduct a study on existing waste management practices and ways to divert garbage away from landfills. At least two other cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have already adopted a zero waste policy and are working toward their zero waste goals; Los Angeles is using a new franchise system for waste, and New York is in the process of emulating it. Boston officials said they will be looking into that as well as any other option that could potentially be effective.