In 2019, Maryland’s landfill had a greater impact on the climate than the state’s largest coal-fired plant. As greenhouse gases become more of an environmental issue, it is essential for governments and businesses to get a handle on their landfill waste production before it is too late. 

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) approximates that in 2019, nearly 4,000 businesses were generating 1 ton or more of organic waste each week. Therefore, it is vital to understand your business’s role in the state’s commercial waste management efforts. That way, you can take steps to adopt more recycling initiatives and work to make your operations more sustainable for the planet.

How Much Waste Goes to Landfills in Maryland?

According to the MDE, Maryland counties generated a total of 13,511,215 tons of solid waste in the year 2019 alone. Out of all this solid waste, Baltimore was responsible for 1,688,830 tons of it, taking the lead for the most waste generated. In 2018, Maryland generated 14,310,933 tons of waste, with Baltimore County still among the top two counties with the most waste.

Though 2019’s numbers show an improvement from the previous year, there is still room for growth when it comes to decreasing Maryland business waste. Historically, Maryland has had years where even less waste was produced. In 2016, the state only generated 11,967,811 tons of waste. This amount of waste is still detrimental to the environment, but it is a stark advancement compared to the most recent years. 

Maryland generating less solid waste in its prior years informs us it is possible for Maryland to better manage its waste in future years if it specifically works toward this goal. 

How Much Waste Is Diverted From Maryland’s Landfills?

Waste diversion programs are a key component of successful commercial waste diversion, keeping these materials out of landfills and putting them toward a better use. The MDE works with each county to ensure they have accurate information on source reduction activities. Due to these county programs, 10 Maryland counties were able to achieve waste diversion rates greater than the state’s 2005 40% waste diversion goal. 

The top-performing counties were Cecil and Montgomery, which achieved a diversion rate greater than 50%. Counties that joined this initiative began implementing methods of disposing of unwanted items such as paint, expired medication and food waste without using landfills. Additionally, these two counties along with Garrett County reached a recycling rate greater than the 55% recycling sustainable materials management (SMM) goal.

​The Maryland Recycling Act (MRA) is a program working to improve commercial waste management among counties. The MRA requires all counties to recycle 20% of waste generated if their population is under 150,000 and 35% of waste if their population is over 150,000. Maryland’s state government is then required to recycle 20% of its solid waste. The MDE collaborates with the jurisdictions to develop markets for recyclable materials to make these goals more obtainable.

Why Is Diverting Waste From Landfills Important?

The All StAR (All State Agencies Recycle) Program is a government agency recycling program that assists the state as a whole in reaching its recycling objectives. In 2019, state agencies recycled 21,920 tons of recyclable materials and 170,539 tons of non-recyclable materials. Though this is a good start, diversion efforts could still be enhanced. Statewide use of recycled newspaper materials is approximately 37% of the required amount. 

Why Is Diverting Waste From Landfills Important?

Solid waste landfills are predicted to be Maryland’s greatest source of methane, beating the natural gas industry and agriculture sector in methane emissions. Though the quantity of methane emitted into the atmosphere is significantly less than other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, its global warming potential is 25 times greater. 

A recent reportstates that Maryland landfills emit four times the amount of methane and carbon dioxide than the state originally estimated. These numbers equate to as much greenhouse gas emissions as a million cars driving for the whole year! This new revelation makes landfills an even larger threat to our state’s environment than we thought. Ultimately, diverting waste can help reduce methane emissions, which significantly impact climate change both presently and in the future. 

Reducing Landfill Waste in Maryland: 5 Potential Ways

Due to new government policies and environmental initiatives, your business can reduce more landfill waste than ever before and enhance its efforts to get closer to zero landfill waste.

Here are five potential ways to limit commercial landfill waste in Maryland:

  1. Track your waste production rate and make clear goals: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Tracking your waste is the first step to making achievable waste management goals that are tangible enough for your team to effectively work toward.
  2. Reduce your waste production rate: Perhaps the easiest way to reduce the amount of waste your company sends to the landfill is to reduce the actual amount of waste it generates. Your company can reduce the amount of waste generated by modifying the processes it employs to purchase and use materials. 
  3. Reuse materials when applicable: Reusing materials prolongs their life span and ultimately saves you money whenever you need to use that material again. Reusing materials includes repairing and refurbishing worn materials as well. Opt for products and materials designed for multiple uses rather than single-use items. 
  4. Donate: Organizations can also donate products and materials to others who need them. For example, restaurants can give perishable food items to people in need within their communities. Many local food banks will gladly pick up food donations for free! For larger equipment like computers, electronic recycling centers will help facilitate the proper reuse or recycling of electronic items to avoid putting them in landfills.
  5. Turn to a responsible waste management company: A commercial waste management company can ensure your waste is disposed of in the most environmentally conscious way. They find and process reusable and recyclable materials within your waste and get rid of whatever’s left with no additional hassle. For example, if you seek to keep pollutants out of local water bodies like the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, you can turn to a turnkey wastewater treatment partner for help with treating your facility’s wastewater.

ERC of USA, a Company of VLS Recovery Services Is Your Commercial Waste Management Partner in Maryland

ERC of USA, a Company of VLS Recovery Services is the largest non-hazardous residual waste processing facility in the Mid-Atlantic. We help you examine your sustainability needs while recommending a waste processing plan tailored to your business’s demands. Call us at 1-833-342-5372 or contact us online to learn more about our environmentally sound waste management solutions.

ERC of USA, a Company of VLS Recovery Services Is Your Commercial Waste Management Partner in Maryland