Organics Diversion and Composting
Compostable materials such as food scraps and yard trimmings make up nearly 30% of all municipal solid waste generated in the U.S. Instead of disposing of this material in landfills and incinerators, composting uses organic material to create a valuable product with environmental and economic benefits, including greenhouse gas emissions reductions and green jobs.
Recycling of some organic materials, such as yard trimmings and manure, is widespread in Maryland. One area of growing interest is food scraps diversion. Though only an estimated 9.6% of food scraps was recycled in Maryland in 2014, much of the remaining material could be prevented, used to feed humans or animals, or composted.
Composting Facility Permits
The Maryland Department of the Environment (the Department) has published a final General Composting Facility Permit (GCFP) as provided under Environment Article, §9-1725, Annotated Code of Maryland, and Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 26.04.11.11.
The comment period on the draft GCFP ended on February 1, 2016. The Department has completed the review of submitted comments and a response to these comments is available in the Response to Comments on Draft General Composting Facility Permit March 28, 2016 summary.
Important Deadline for Existing Composting Facilities
Existing composting facilities are those that began operations on or before July 1, 2015. An existing composting facility that is subject to the Composting Facility (CF) Permit was required to submit to the Department an Existing Facility Notification (EFN) Form by September 1, 2015. Twenty two (22) existing facilities have submitted the EFN to the Department and are required to obtain either a GPCF or an Individual Composting Facility Permit by December 31, 2016.
An existing composting facility may obtain a GPCF, if the facility:
- Accepts only feedstocks that were accepted as of July 1, 2015 that were described in the EFN Form;
- Accepts materials in quantities not exceeding the annual quantity reported in the EFN Form; and
- Does not engage in composting in a manner likely to cause any prohibited acts under COMAR 26.04.11.04B.
Composting Facility Regulations Adopted (COMAR 26.04.11)
On June 12, 2015, a Notice of Final Action was published adopting new composting facility regulations effective July 1, 2015. The Final Action adopted the regulations as proposed in December 2014, with several minor nonsubstantive changes. The changes are listed in the Notice of Final Action.
The following are collections of organics diversion resources targeted to various audiences. These resources can help you start an organics diversion program at work, school, or home, or simply learn more about compost and its use.
Legislation and Reports
- Composting facilities: The Department's Resource Management Program, 410-537-3314.
- Natural wood waste recycling: The Department's Solid Waste Operations Division, 410-537-3318.
- Sewage sludge composting: The Department's Biosolids Division, 410-537-3314.
- Stormwater discharges: The Department's Water Management Administration Compliance Program, 410-537-3510.
- Groundwater discharges: The Department's Water Management Administration, Groundwater Permits Division, 410-537-3778.
- Compost product registration or operator certification: Maryland Department of Agriculture, State Chemist, 410-841-2721.
- Local zoning or land use issues, or any requirements governing backyard composting: Please contact your county recycling office. Contact information can be found here.