Description of Initiative:
In August 2012, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection created a new division to undertake a cross-media and multi-program approach to material management. Including merging disparate recycling programs and management responsibilities, the goal of this innovative new division is to create a team which oversees the implementation of a comprehensive, coordinated, and holistic approach to materials management.
Specifically, the Sustainability Division has responsibility for:
- Administering the various product stewardship programs overseen by the department. These programs include: electronic wastes; cell phones; mercury thermostats; mercury-added (fluorescent) lamps; mercury auto switches; dry cell mercuric oxide and rechargeable batteries; and unwanted paint (effective 2015);
- Furnishing technical assistance to residents, municipalities, institutions and businesses on waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting opportunities. Currently, a major emphasis is being placed on diverting unwanted organics from disposal, with those organics sent for use as animal feed or to composting operations or for anaerobic digestion;
- Directing the chemical management programs which include the priority chemicals in products program and the toxic chemical reduction program;
- Encouraging the restaurant, lodging, and grocery sectors to participate in and become recognized for their sustainability activities through the recently rebranded Environmental Leader Program; and
- Being the department’s resource for greenhouse gas and climate change/climate adaptation issues, with a focus on Maine’s strategy for addressing potential impacts.
Results to Date:
A number of the highlights of the recently created Sustainability Division include:
- Aiding several municipalities and institutions, including medical facilities, in designing and implementing organic waste composting programs;
- Implementing revisions to the priority chemical law, including the creation of the list of chemicals of high concern, and the sales prohibition on infant formula and baby food packaging containing intentionally added- Biphenyl A, effective March 1, 2014;
- Assisting the state’s largest anaerobic digestion operation in identifying and securing organic waste;
- Outreach on adaptation and related challenges and opportunities surrounding severe weather incidents;
- Expanding outreach to municipalities and businesses on recovery and recycling of fluorescent bulbs, mercury thermostats, and other Universal Waste;
- Preparing the 2011 Waste Generation and Disposal Capacity Report and presenting it to the Governor and the Legislature in early 2013;
- Beginning work on the update to the state’s five-year Waste Management & Recycling Plan;
- Certifying or recertifying more than 35 businesses in the Environmental Leader program; and
- Initiating the toxic use reduction reporting requirements and outreach to regulated entities.
George M. MacDonald
Director of Sustainability Division
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
(207) 287-2870 (desk)