As many eyes remain on the North Country and the proposed Casella Waste Systems commercial landfill for Dalton, a new working group is quietly getting to work in Concord.
Signed into law on Aug. 10 was House Bill 413 (whose co-sponsors include state Rep. Linda Massimilla, D-Littleton and state Sen. Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton), which established a solid waste working group on solid waste management planning and requires the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to make certain rules regarding composting and establishes a statewide solid waste disposal reduction goal.
Support for such a reduction goal has been voiced by many residents in the North Country and beyond.
The working group was brought up during the Sept. 29 public information session hosted by DES officials, who outlined the permitting processes that a landfill in Dalton would have to go through.
“It’s important to understand that a bill in the House this past session established a solid waste working group,” said Mike Wimsatt, director of DES’s Solid Waste Management Division. “It will have its first meeting in October. It will exist for four years and will work on our efforts to update our solid waste management plan by the fall of next year.”
It’s been nearly two decades since the plan was updated, and that lack of an update prompted the Conservation Law Foundation earlier this year to file suit in superior court against DES in an effort to prevent Casella’s landfill from expanding in Bethlehem and the permitting for its proposed landfill in Dalton to proceed until the plan is updated.
CLF cited New Hampshire’s waste reduction goal, which states the goal by the year 2000 was to reach a 40-percent minimum weight diversion of solid waste land-filled or incinerated.
To date, that percentage has not been realized.
The group also argued that the state’s solid waste hierarchy ranks land-filling as the least-preferred method of solid waste management.
Both cases were CLF dismissed, though the New Hampshire Solid Waste Management Council did accept an appeal by CLF, which is contesting the expansion permit approved by DES for Casella’s Bethlehem facility.
Going forward from HB 413, people can participate in the public meetings that will be held by the working group, said Wimsatt.
The group’s members include one member each of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, New Hampshire Senate, Waste Management Council, owner of an in-state landfill, owner of a publicly owned landfill, an in-state solid waste hauler, one member of the New Hampshire healthcare industry, an expert in solid waste-related sustainability, a member of DES, and a member from the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, all of whom are tasked to assist DES in long-range planning and recommend better ways for the state to implement the solid waste hierarchy and solid waste reduction goals.
“That working group will play a big role in how we look at solid waste management in the future,” said Wimsatt.
The group’s first report is due by Nov 1. 2022, and its final report by Nov. 1, 2026.
HB 413 declares a goal to reduce the quantity of solid waste disposed of by 25 percent by 2030 and 45 percent by 2050.