Waste Management Policy Articles in Maine Policy Review


Maine’s Culture of Reuse and Its Potential to Advance Environmental and Economic Policy Objectives

Authors: Cindy Isenhour, Andrew Crawley, Brieanne Berry, Jennifer Bonnet

Maine Policy Review 26(1): 36-46

Policies designed to extend the lifetime of products—by encouraging reuse rather than disposal—are proliferating. Research suggests that reuse can ease pressure on natural resources and improve economic efficiency, all while preventing waste. In Maine, there are clear signs of a tradition of reuse that might be used to advance these goals. But beyond discrete observations, proverbs, and anecdotal stories, little data have been collected upon which to estimate the potential of Maine’s reuse economy. This paper draws upon findings generated during the first year of a five-year interdisciplinary, mixed-methods research project designed to explore the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of reuse in Maine. Our preliminary findings suggest that Maine does, indeed, have a vibrant but underestimated reuse economy. Less expected are findings that suggest reuse has promise to enhance economic resilience and contribute to culturally appropriate economic development.

Sharing Isn’t Easy: Food Waste and Food Redistribution in Maine K–12 Schools

Authors: Brieanne Berry, Ann Acheson

Maine Policy Review 26(1): 47-58

Approximately 30 percent of food in the United States is wasted. When food is landfilled instead of eaten, the economic and natural resources used to produce and transport that food are also wasted. At the same time, however, food insecurity remains a pressing issue both in the United States and within the state of Maine. This paper explores efforts to reduce food waste and address food insecurity in Maine’s K–12 school system, with an emphasis on food redistribution. Research indicates that schools produce substantial amounts of food waste, but little is known about strategies that schools employ to address food waste, either through formal policy or grassroots efforts. Based on an analysis of school board waste policies and interviews with school officials in Maine, this study suggests that the adoption of specific types of practices to reduce food waste is influenced by multiple factors.


Moving up the Waste Hierarchy in Maine: Learning from “Best Practice” State-Level Policy for Waste Reduction and Recovery

Authors: Cindy Isenhour, Travis Blackmer, Travis Wagner, Linda Silka, John Peckenham, et al.

Maine Policy Review 25(1): 15-28

As Maine residents look toward the future, it is increasingly clear that more sustainable waste and materials management solutions will be necessary. A recent stakeholder engagement process involving nearly 200 industry professionals, municipal representatives and citizen groups confirmed this point. As we move together toward a more sustainable waste management system, participants in the engagement process identified an outstanding need to learn more about policies options. This article responds to that need with a review of state level policies designed to reduce waste generation and increase material recovery rates. We find there are a wide variety of state-level policy tools available, each of which involves a series of complex tradeoffs to balance decision criteria ranging from diversion potential and cost to social acceptability and environmental protection. While there is no magic formula, it is clear that the most successful state-level programs are those that utilize a variety of tools, selected as part of a comprehensive and data-driven long-term planning process.

Municipal Approaches in Maine to Reduce Single-use Consumer Products

Authors: Travis Wagner

Maine Policy Review 25(2): 31-43

Maine’s solid waste management hierarchy prioritizes reduction and reuse over recycling. While most municipalities in Maine have focused on increasing recycling, they have undertaken minimal efforts to specifically foster source reduction and reuse. In this paper, Travis Wagner examines the approaches adopted in Maine by the state and by municipalities to reduce the consumption of single-use consumer products including bans, fees, consumer education, choice architecture, and retail take back.

Creating Sustainable, Cost-Effective, and Equitable Waste-Management Programs in Maine Communities

Authors:        Deprez, Luisa S.; Deprez, Ron

Maine Policy Review 25(1): 30-33

The authors present several perspectives on popular municipal solid waste (MSW) policies and programs that can help guide decision making to address the waste hierarchy as well as to extend thinking in regard to MSW.


Impacts of Pay-As-You-Throw and Other Residential Solid Waste Policy Options: Southern Maine 2007–2013

Authors:        Blackmer, Travis, Criner, George

Maine Policy Review 23(2): 51-58

Municipal solid waste management in the U.S. began a transformation in the 1980s as a result of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation requiring the closure of municipal “dumps.” This legislation, coupled with increasing total and per capita waste, resulted in waste management receiving national attention. Maine and other states began broad efforts to reduce and wisely manage their municipal solid wastes. Many states established solid waste goals, with Maine targeting a waste diversion rate of 50 percent. Four common residential waste management programs in Maine include curbside trash collection, curbside recyclable collection, single-stream recycling, and pay-as-you-throw programs. This article provides estimated impacts from these programs. Pay-as-you-throw, curbside collection of recyclables and single-stream recycling are found to increase the percentage of recycling, while curbside trash collection is found to decrease the percentage of recycling.


Landfill: Gas to Energy

Author: Sam Zaitlin

Maine Policy Review 17(2): 105-106

If Maine is to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, and the associated greenhouse gas emissions, it is important to develop both new sources of energy and new technologies to better access existing sources. The generation of electricity from gas produced by landfills is already underway. Sam Zaitlin describes Maine’s first waste-to-energy project located at Casella’s Hampden landfill.


Solid Waste Management Options for Maine: The Economics of Pay-by-the-bag Systems

Authors:        Seguino, Stephanie; Criner, George; Suarez, Margarita

Maine Policy Review 4(2): 49-58

State and federal environmental mandates during the last three decades have changed the nature of the debate over solid waste disposal, but not the basic question: What do we do about the garbage we produce? Unlike years past, however, disposal options are now fewer and more costly. This has resulted in a shift in focus away from solutions that simply try to deal with the output of the disposal process—the trash—to those that focus on inputs—reducing the volume of materials going into the waste stream. Among the volume reduction strategies are recycling, which focuses on specific input materials, and volume-based fees, such as pay-by-the-bag (PB) solid waste disposal systems.


Regulatory Updates: The Maine Waste Management Agency

Maine Policy Review 2(1): 86-87

Regulatory Updates: Maine Low-Level Radioactive Waste Authority

Maine Policy Review has taken a particular interest in the activities of Maine’s key regulatory agencies, such as the Public Utilities Commission and the Board of Environmental Protection. The state also has a number of regulatory agencies with jurisdictions over relatively narrow interests or industries. Because of their narrow mission, these agencies often do not attract regular media attention. In this issue, MPR continues its policy of highlighting these “other” regulatory boards, in this case the Maine Low-Level Radioactive Waste Authority, providing readers with general and contextual information about these bodies.

Maine Policy Review 2(2): 103-104


State Efforts to Site a Special Waste Facility

Author: Sherry Huber

Maine Policy Review 1(2): 17-22

The seeming paralysis in siting waste disposal facilities and other new facilities in Maine and other states underscores the difficulty of designing and implementing processes that will safeguard the environment and human health while sustaining economic development. Sherry Huber, director of the Maine Waste Management Agency, highlights issues that have surfaced during the initial efforts of MWMA to site a special waste landfill.

A Local View of Facility Siting

Author: Don Meagher

Maine Policy Review 1(2): 22-24

The seeming paralysis in siting waste disposal facilities and other new facilities in Maine and other states underscores the difficulty of designing and implementing processes that will safeguard the environment and human health while sustaining economic development Don Meagher of the Eastern Maine Development Corporation describes the lessons learned from his involvement in an effort to site a demolition debris facility.

A Facility Siting Activist’s View

Author: Bob Dunning

Maine Policy Review 1(2): 25-28

The seeming paralysis in siting waste disposal facilities and other new facilities in Maine and other states underscores the difficulty of designing and implementing processes that will safeguard the environment and human health while sustaining economic development. Bob Dunning, a facility siting activist, offers some suggestions to government and industry officials on how to communicate better with facility siting opponents.


Changing Perspectives on the Facility Siting Process

Authors: David Laws, Lawrence Susskind

Maine Policy Review 1(1): 29-44

Building regionally necessary but locally noxious facilities such as power plants, landfills, waste incinerators and prisons has become increasingly difficult. David Laws and Lawrence Susskind discuss some of the traditional steps involved, including needs assessment, choice of technology, site selection, assessing and mitigating impacts, and management. They provide an alternative approach to facility siting that includes, among other things, seeking consensus, working to develop trust, setting realistic timetables, getting agreement that the status quo is unacceptable, choosing a design that best addresses the problem, and fully compensating for negative aspects of the facility.

Solid Waste Management in Local Municipalities

Authors:        Criner, George K.

Maine Policy Review 1(1): 93-96

For most of the era since 1960, when environmental policy and resource policy have been central public issues, the focus of public debates on those policies was at the federal and state levels. Now, more and more of the decisions and policies that will determine the quality of life for citizens are being made at the local level. Issues that have historically been local prerogatives are increasingly identified as crucial for effective environmental policy and for insuring “quality of life.” Those local decisions are often constrained by a wide variety of state and federal policies on environmental policy and resource use, but effective management of quality of life issues by local governments will clearly require more than reluctant reaction to rules and deadlines imposed from above. In one of a series of three articles in this issue, George Criner examine the match between the increasing demands for local action on environment-related issues and the local resources available to meet those demands, focusing on local solid waste planning.