The Maine House of Representatives narrowly approved a bill that would keep commercial food waste out of the trash by requiring some large producers to donate their edible leftovers and recycle the scraps. The House voted 76-64 to adopt LD 1009, a bill introduced by Rep. Stanley Zeigler Jr., D-Montville. The bill, which was endorsed in January by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, now heads to the Senate for consideration. “The bill has the ability to help reach the state goal of reducing solid waste below a half-ton per capita,” said Zeigler. “Unfortunately, right now, a lot of our waste is food.”

Maine long ago developed a solid waste policy: reduce when possible, then reuse, recycle, or compost, and, as a last resort, incinerate or landfill. By diverting scraps from the waste stream, Zeigler’s bill would save landfill space and reduce municipal tipping fees. If leftover food is donated, the bill would help tackle Maine’s hunger problem. If it is recycled at one of Maine’s five organic recycling facilities, it would be turned into a gas, non-toxic liquid or compost that could be used to fertilize agricultural fields and help farmers, Zeigler said.

But the bill has a long line of critics – including the Maine Department of Environmental Protection – which argues it is well-intentioned but ahead of its time for a state that does not have the infrastructure to make it a success. Critics say most large-scale food waste producers already recycle what they can.

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Author: Penelope Overton, Portland Press Herald
Image: Brianna Soukup, Portland Press Herald