Solid Waste Management in Maryland
MDE's Solid Waste Program (SWP) is responsible for assuring that society's domestic, commercial, and non-hazardous industrial solid waste is handled properly. Improper handling of these wastes can pose direct threats to both public health and Maryland's natural resources, particularly water resources. Since 1914, Maryland has had laws requiring solid waste be handled in a manner that minimizes the risk posed to public health and the environment. The impact caused by poor waste disposal practices include:
- pollution of groundwater, which many Marylanders rely on for drinking water supplies;
- pollution of surface water, with the potential for impacting drinking water supplies of many of the large municipalities in Maryland (e.g. Baltimore City); and,
- health nuisances such as odor, rats, flies, and mosquitoes.
Solid Waste Acceptance (SWA) Facilities
MDE regulates SWA facilities to ensure the proper disposal of solid waste in an environmentally acceptable manner while protecting the public health and the environment, including surface and groundwater. A Refuse Disposal (RD) Permit is required for the installation, alteration, or extension of a SWA facility. The RD Permit regulates the design, construction, operation, and monitoring of such facilities to minimize the impact on public health and the environment. Municipal, rubble, and some industrial waste landfills are required to have liners and leachate collection systems that facilitate the collection of leachate and prevent migration of pollutants out of the landfill to adjacent subsurface soil, groundwater, and surface water. (The term leachate is used to describe the liquid formed when precipitation soaks into landfill waste and migrates downward through waste due to gravity. As liquids move through the waste, they may extract substances leaching out of the waste - hence the term "leachate.") With some exceptions, processing and transfer activities are required to be conducted in an enclosed building to control odor, dust, noise, and the like. SWA facilities, which are regulated by a RD Permit, include:
- Municipal landfills
- Rubble [construction and demolition (C&D) debris] landfills
- Non-hazardous industrial waste landfills
- Land clearing debris landfills
- Waste-to-energy facilities
- Municipal incinerators
- Special medical waste incinerators
- Special medical waste processing facilities
- Solid waste processing facilities
- Solid waste transfer stations
For a complete list of permitted SWA facilities, see the Permitted Facilities page.
Natural Wood Waste Recycling (NWWR) Facilities
A NWWR Facility is a facility that accepts natural wood waste such as tree stumps and limbs, brush, root mats, logs, leaves, grass clippings, unadulterated wood wastes, and other natural vegetative materials that are generated when land is cleared for construction purposed. These facilities produce a variety of products including wood chips, mulch, compost, and firewood, which may be sold to consumers. These facilities are valued because they prevent natural wood waste from entering the landfill and make useful products from such waste. Recycling natural wood waste saves valuable space, thereby extending the life of landfills in Maryland. An individual or general NWWR Facility Permit is required for persons constructing and operating such a facility.
Composting of organic material can be a useful way to recycle materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Larger-scale commercial, governmental, or cooperative composting activities can potentially have negative environmental impacts such as water pollution, the risk of fire, and the development of significant health nuisances such as odor and the attraction of disease vectors such as rates and flies.
For more information about composting, see the Organics Diversion and Composting Page.
Regulation of the Open Burning of Solid Waste
Open burn permits issued by the local health officer can help to address air pollution, nuisance, and public safety concerns when all applicable laws and regulations are followed. The Land Management Administration, with input from the Air and Radiation Management Administration, has put together guidance in an effort to clarify the appropriate application of open burning regulations.
Open Burning Fact Sheet - This fact sheet describes the regulatory requirements and provides examples of when materials that are solid waste can and can't be burned.
Upcoming Solid Waste Public Meetings or Hearings:
For the most up to date information on public meetings or hearings visit the MDE Calendar Page.
Quarantine Road Municipal Landfill II
The Solid Waste Program is currently reviewing a Refuse Disposal Permit Application from the Baltimore City Department of Public Works for the Quarantine Road Municipal Landfill II. A Public Informational Meeting providing information about the application was held at the Curtis Bay Recreational center on December 16, 2014. If permitted, this would allow an expansion of Baltimore City's existing Quarantine Road Municipal Landfill onto a closed industrial waste landfill located just east of the existing City landfill. This is an active application that will be subject to a Public Hearing when the Department has reached a Tentative Determination regarding this application, in order to receive public input on the proposal. Questions concerning this application can be directed to the Solid Waste Program's Project Manager, geologist Samuel Ogbogu, at (410) 537-3315.
Facilities of Interest:
Frederick/Carroll County Renewable Waste-to-Energy Facility
Refuse Disposal Permit No. 2011-WTE-0649 issued for this facility was revoked effective January 6, 2015, at the request of the applicant.
Solid Waste Program, Land Management Administration
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Blvd., Ste. 605
Baltimore MD 21230-1719