Reintroduced Maryland Bill on Wasted Food Reduction and Diversion

Date: 16 Feb 2024 | posted in: Composting | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

ILSR’s Composting for Community team has once again worked with Delegate Regina T. Boyce (District 43, Baltimore City) to introduce the Solid Waste Disposal Surcharge and Wasted Food Reduction and Diversion Fund and Grant Programs Bill (HB 1318) for Maryland’s 2024 legislative session. An earlier version of this bill was first introduced in 2022 as HB1070 and in 2023 as HB1139.

The bill addresses the critical need for investment into wasted food reduction and recovery programs and infrastructure in Maryland by establishing major grant funding programs based on a nominal surcharge on waste disposal. Numerous other states, such as those featured in our 2022 webinar, have similar successful grant programs in place with positive impacts on their local communities, economies, and the environment.

In Maryland, the grants could total more than $14 million per year to support local governments, small businesses, non-profits, schools, farmers, and more in their efforts to advance wasted food prevention, rescue, recycling, and composting projects and infrastructure.

Click here for a one-page summary of the bill’s proposed grant programs and click here to read FAQs

Use our model legislation template to draft a policy like this for your own state or locality


Since the bill’s first introduction in the 2022 session, there have been a number of changes based on conversations with numerous stakeholders to address their concerns and/or suggestions to improve this bill. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), with the guidance of Delegate Regina T. Boyce, has gathered input from numerous stakeholders in order to get this bill to fit Maryland’s unique landscape. Some of these stakeholders include the Maryland Association of Counties, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, Maryland Clean Water Action, US Composting Council’s Maryland-DC Chapter, and others. More recently, ILSR collaborated extensively with the Maryland Department of Environment and Department of Agriculture to ensure the bill filled programmatic gaps and was implementable by the agencies.

 As a result of these collaborations, major changes include: 

  • Dropping the per-ton surcharge on waste landfilled or incinerated from an original $5/ton to $2/ton. 
  • Focusing resources specifically on food waste reduction and diversion.
  • Counties (including Baltimore City and the Mid-Shore) may apply to opt out of the statewide program if they set up their own disposal surcharge to fund waste reduction in the county. Opted-out Counties have the flexibility to tailor their program to their needs.
  • Allocating funding equally between the Wasted Food Reduction Grant Program (administered by MDE) and the On-Farm Organics Diversion Grant Program (administered by MDA). This bill also allocates 4% of annual funding as support for the School Waste Reduction and Composting Program (administered by MSDE) until the program sunsets.
  • Increasing the limit on funding to be used for administrative costs for all grants programs from 10% to 25%.
  • Updating the implementation timeline to better align with existing agency processes and to allow for the agencies to avoid out-of-pocket costs when setting up the grant programs.


Why is funding for reduction and diversion of wasted food needed NOW in Maryland?

  • Maryland is in need of expanded access to and capacity for food waste reduction, food rescue, and diversion of wasted food from disposal that benefits local communities. A major obstacle to development and expansion of food waste reduction infrastructure and programs is lack of funding. 
  • The Maryland Food Systems Resiliency Council’s November 2023 report makes recommendations to invest in cold storage, organics recycling of food residuals, food residual diversion sites and programs, and education and technical assistance to support reduction of food waste.
  • Maryland has passed numerous policies supporting healthy soils, food waste recovery, recycling, and composting but funding to support effective development of these efforts is sorely lacking. A nominal per-ton waste surcharge will provide funding to support and expand food waste reduction and diversion throughout the state while also disincentivizing final solid waste disposal in landfills and incinerators.
  • Expansion of composting and organics recycling infrastructure and the availability of high-quality, non-contaminated compost is crucial to supporting Maryland soils by reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers, increasing soil organic matter, and improving water and nutrient cycling.
  • A 2021 report revealed that Maryland landfills were emitting four times more methane than previously estimated. Diverting organic waste from landfills, where anaerobic decomposition produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is a necessity for Maryland to achieve its goals of 60% emissions reductions by 2031 and net-zero in 2045.
  • Maryland’s 2021 food waste diversion mandate law has increased demand for alternatives to food waste disposal. Expanded processing capacity is needed to meet food waste diversion goals and, without support for community-oriented and farm projects, Maryland may end up privileging industrial, large-sized facilities.


This bill was heard in the Maryland House Committee on Environment and Transportation on March 1, 2024. Watch the hearing here.

ILSR’s sign-on testimony was supported by 30 organizations.



Image: The Maryland State House capitol building in Annapolis, Maryland. Credit: SerrNovik. iStock photo by Getty Images. 
Avatar photo
Follow Sophia Jones:
Sophia Jones

Sophia Jones is the Policy Lead with ILSR’s Composting for Community initiative, where she researches, analyzes and supports the building of US policy that advances local composting. Her background in sustainable development and agriculture reflects her interest in solutions-based, community-led development initiatives.