Legislative & News Update – SWANA Mid-Atlantic – January 13, 2022

Jacob Shepherd, P.E. – Legislative Liaison – jshepherd@scsengineers.com

SWANA Updates

Suit Filed to Force EPA to Revise Landfill Gas Emission Calculations – The Environmental Integrity Project, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Sierra Club have filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force the Agency to revise its landfill gas emissions calculation methods. This the first step in a legal process under the Clean Air Act.

EPA is required to review and, if necessary, update the landfill gas emissions calculation methods every three years. The notice alleges that EPA has failed to do this review for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and carbon monoxide (CO) from MSW landfills since 1998. Further, it states EPA must also review the methods used to quantify methane generation and non-methane organic compounds. The group claims that the current emission factors underestimate emissions from almost all pollutants by about 25 percent.

SWANA will contact EPA for further information and will continue to follow this case closely as it develops.

Impact of Omicron Variant – SWANA is concerned that increased delays in solid waste collection are likely to occur into January and encourages municipal solid waste officials and haulers to plan now for staffing shortages. The sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases, fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, combined with the seasonal uptick in residential waste and recyclables, could stress some solid waste collection systems.

The impact of the Omicron variant comes as many communities in the United States are addressing a labor shortage with collection workers. The increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant will likely result in collection delays in some communities, and SWANA urges elected officials and the general public to be patient if agencies and haulers are forced to adjust collection schedules.

SWANA has coronavirus resources and guidance available on their website.

Report Analyzing Costs of Recycling Right Programs – SWANA’s Applied Research Foundation (ARF) has published a report analyzing “recycle right” programs, which it hopes will be a powerful tool for local governments to improve recycling programs and reduce contamination. The report also provides examples of communities in the United States that have succeeded in improving recycling programs through outreach. The report is available to SWANA ARF subscribers, but an executive summary can be downloaded here.

Legislative Updates


Build Back Better Act (HR5376) – The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act on November 19, 2021, which includes grants for organics recycling and reuse infrastructure, and waste reduction in low-income or disadvantaged communities. The funding for both grant programs will be available to state and local governments, as well as non-profit organizations. The bill also includes  funding  for  EPA  to  collect  national  recycling  data,  with  an  emphasis  on  those   same

communities. The bill provides $95 million in grants for organics recycling and reuse infrastructure and another $95 million for waste reduction activities. EPA will also be provided with $10 million to conduct data collection on national recycling efforts. Although the bill has passed the House, the bill is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Status of OSHA Rule for Vaccination and Testing – On November 5, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an interim final rule to apply to employers with 100 or more employees. Under the rule, employers covered under the rule must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or elect to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination. Employers must include all employees across all of their U.S. locations regardless of vaccination status and work location, and include both full- and part-time employees.  Text of the rule is available on the Federal Register.

After the U.S. 6th Court of Appeals reinstated the rule, the lawsuit will head to the Supreme Court for a final decision. Arguments in the case before the Supreme Court began on January 7. In addition to the legal challenges, some states have passed legislation or orders that counter the OSHA rule, making it difficult for employers to comply with the laws. It should be noted that as of the date of this update, no countering rules exist in Chapter jurisdictions.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

A new report released by the EPA, From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste (Part 1), addresses the climate and environmental impacts of producing, processing, distributing, and retailing food that is ultimately wasted, and discusses the environmental benefits of meeting the U.S.’s current goal to prevent 50 percent of food waste. A companion part 2 report will examine and compare the environmental impacts of different management pathways for food waste, expected for Spring 2022.

Maryland Legislative

The 444th legislative session convened on January 12, 2022 and will adjourn on April 11, 2022. No updates.

Maryland MDE

Currently Tracking – New Landfill Methane Rules and State EG Implementation Plan – No updates. MDE is currently developing new rules for methane control and reduction from municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. The rules would also implement the Emission Guidelines (EG) under the 2016 NSPS changes (40 CFR 60 Subpart Cf) and would replace the current Federal EG Plan that applies to Maryland landfills (published under 40 CFR 62 Subpart OOO). A draft regulatory framework was presented at the recent June 23, 2021 landfill stakeholders meeting, which has been posted to MDE’s website. As proposed in the draft regulatory framework, the regulations would significantly reduce the threshold for requiring the installation, operation, and monitoring of an active gas collection system. In July, the Chapter Legislative Committee distributed a list of potential issues presented in the framework. MDE is currently reviewing comments submitted on the framework and is developing a draft regulation, which is expected to be published soon.

Delaware Legislative

The 2022 Delaware General Assembly legislative session convened on January 11, 2021 and will adjourn on June 30, 2022.  No updates

District of Columbia Legislative

Council Period 23 began on January 2, 2021 and will end at 12:00 p.m. on January 2, 2023. Currently no bills related to solid waste and recycling are being considered.

News Updates

New App in Baltimore City Cuts Food Waste – Conduit Street – November 30, 2021

U.S. is Top Contributor to Plastic Waste, Report Shows – Washington Post – December 1, 2021

Ford Bronco Sport First to Feature Parts Made of 100% Recycled Ocean Plastic – Green Car Congress

– December 9, 2021

Bugs Across Globe are Evolving to Eat Plastic, Study Finds – The Guardian – December 14, 2021

3G Networks are Shutting Down: What Does That Mean for Your Cellphone – Conduit Street – December 14, 2021 – Something to consider for remote monitoring of landfill management systems.

2021 Saw Two States Enact a New Plastic Packaging Fee Program – Forbes – December 31, 2021

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