Since we wrote about Maryland House Bill 1349, “Compostable, Degradable, and Biodegradable Plastic Products – Labeling,” in late February, it has made significant progress in the Maryland state legislature. As of March 23rd, the bill passed its third reading in the House and moved on to the Senate. Since the bill was not cross-filed with the Senate, it does not receive a public hearing, although it still goes to the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee to be discussed.
The initial bill hearing was held on March 1, 2017, in a joint session with the Environment and Transportation Committee and the Economic Matters Committee. Brenda Platt of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Linda Norris Waldt of the US Composting Council, and Rhodes Yepsen of the Biodegradable Plastics Institute all testified in favor as a part of bill sponsor Delegate Shane Robinson’s panel of experts. After an extensive discourse on the bill, where the expert panel fielded questions regarding the standards laid out in the bill and what implementation of the law would look like, the bill was voted out of committee with a favorable-with-amendments designation. The only amendment was suggested by Julie Lawson of Trash Free Maryland, who testified about her concern with the standards the bill set for “marine degradable” products, as it would have conflicted with the existing Maryland state ban on microbeads.
Given the bill’s overall intention to prevent products that are not truly compostable from ending up in composting facilities, the references to marine degradable materials were stricken entirely from the legislation. If it passes, Maryland will be on the cutting edge of this crucial issue; only California has adopted similar legislation.
A number of organizations, including ILSR, testified in favor of the bill. The written testimonies for the following organizations are available below:
- Biodegradable Plastics Institute
- Institute for Local Self-Reliance
- United States Composting Council
- Veteran Compost