SD16 - Waste Diversion and Recycling Task Force (Chapter 503, 2021 SSI andSJR42, 2020)

Executive Summary:

I. Executive Summary

This report is prepared by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to report on the meetings of the Waste Diversion & Recycling Task Force (Task Force) formed by DEQ pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 42 of the 2020 Session (SJ 42) and Chapter 503 of the 2021 Special Session I Acts of Assembly.

II. Background

Senate Joint Resolution 42 of the 2020 Session requested that DEQ establish a Waste Diversion and Recycling Task Force to meet and discuss ways to increase waste diversion and recycling. The Resolution required that certain named stakeholders be included in the membership of the Task Force and directed the Task Force to discuss the following items:

(i) methods of improving recycling, reducing waste, and diverting waste from landfills;

(ii) recommendations to reduce waste at the source, such as composting and recycling of organic material; and

(iii) whether current recycling rates required by Virginia law should be increased and whether state policy should be changed to give landfills a greater role in the management of organic material.

In addition, the Resolution also directed the Task Force to discuss:

(i) potential improvements in the goals and efficiency of the grant program funded by the Litter Control and Recycling Fund pursuant to Article 3 (§ 10.1-1414 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 10.1 of the Code of Virginia,

(ii) §§ 10.1-1422.01 and 10.1-1422.04 of the Code of Virginia and related statutory provisions and whether amendments are advisable, and

(iii) the allocation formula, codifying and increasing the percentage of grants that it awards to localities on a competitive basis, reallocating funds for the purpose of funding regional recycling programs that provide service to multiple localities, providing additional grants for educational programs, imposing constraints on the amount of grant funds that may be used to fund personnel salaries and wages, providing funding for additional collection points for recyclables generated by localities, and any other changes it deems appropriate.

Consistent with this directive, DEQ solicited for requested stakeholders to join the Waste Diversion and Recycling Task Force (Task Force). Unfortunately, due to various factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and associated emergency orders, the Task Force was unable to meet prior to the 2021 Session.

During the 2021 Special Session 1, Chapter 503 of the 2021 Special Session 1 Acts of Assembly (SB 1319) passed and requested that DEQ continue the Task Force, adding additional stakeholder members and topics of study to include:

(i) further study available options to divert from landfills in the Commonwealth food residuals, organic waste, and baseline recyclables;

(ii) conduct a meta-analysis or systematic review of the policies, legislation, practices, and programs proposed and implemented by other states and draw upon such programs in considering recommendations for waste diversion policies;

(iii) examine Virginia's status as a prime destination for out-of-state trash and explore ways in which waste from other states can be diverted from Virginia's landfills;

(iv) assess the landfill, hazardous waste, and recycling facilities needed to manage toxic materials generated by electric vehicle and electric grid backup battery waste; and

(v) investigate the role of a composting and food donation infrastructure in reducing the volume of waste that is accepted by landfills, including upgrading and refining existing food donation infrastructure, identifying food material and organic waste generators and haulers, comparing the use of in-house composting with regional composting hubs, studying the ideal distance between composting hubs and waste generators, considering the permitting of composting hubs, and exploring markets and systems for composting services and anaerobic digestion.

DEQ again solicited for requested stakeholders outlined in SJ42 and SB1319 and finalized the membership of the Waste Diversion and Recycling Task Force in July 2021. Task Force members are listed in Attachment 7 of the meeting minutes attached to this report.