New Hampshire Passes Recycling Study Bill Amid Market Challenges

New Hampshire has been one of the New England states hit hardest by rising recycling costs and tight end markets. Last month, state legislators approved a bill establishing a committee that will determine next steps by studying the state's recycling streams and solid waste management system.

Primary sponsor Rep. Karen Ebel told Waste Dive she introduced the bill (HB 617) "out of concern for the municipalities" upon hearing about the current market challenges. Some cities in New Hampshire, especially those with single stream programs, have ceased their recycling programs because they no longer have viable markets for their materials.

I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill along with my friend and Deputy Speaker of the House Karen Ebel.

Plastics were the initial focus, but legislators learned of pressure on other commodities — including mixed pa-per — during the hearing process. Information on how, for example, ending a recycling program could affect landfill capacity also led to an amendment expanding the study group's scope.

"I've come to appreciate what a broad, challenging topic this is. I've also come to appreciate that just recycling isn't going to solve a lot of the issues," Ebel said. "Municipalities are on the front lines of dealing with the waste that's being generated in their communities. The costs of getting rid of that waste are increasing more and more, and it's being borne by the taxpayers. From an economic standpoint ... we need to help them find a way out of this, because I don't think it's something one individual town can do."