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N.H.'s trash plan is almost two decades old. A new draft shows what an update might look like.

Daniela Allee for NHPR

New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services offered the first look at a long-overdue update to the state’s solid waste management plan Friday.

The last update to the plan that governs New Hampshire’s trash happened almost two decades ago, in 2003. Now, state regulators and a group of advisors have until October to come up with a new document.

State law establishes a goal of reducing solid waste by 25% over the next eight years, and by 45% by 2050. The updated plan is meant to lay out the specific goals and actions that will help achieve that, said Mike Nork, a supervisor at the state’s Solid Waste Management Bureau.

Nork presented a draft outline of the new plan to the Solid Waste Working Group – a committee helping regulators develop the plan.

The draft outline focuses on reducing the amount of waste generated in New Hampshire, reducing the toxicity of New Hampshire’s waste, directing waste out of landfills into recycling or other uses, and making sure New Hampshire has capacity for all of its waste. One goal is to develop local markets for waste diversion, like recycling.

The document also introduces two new areas of focus: climate change and environmental justice.

“These are topics that don't just touch solid waste. They touch all different facets of environmental management and society at large,” said Michael Nork. “They are things that are part of the public discourse right now.”

The draft outline says solid waste planners should emphasize climate mitigation and adaptation, and ensure solid waste policies and regulations support environmental justice initiatives.

It includes suggested actions like updating the state's disaster debris management, creating guidance for installing solar panels on inactive landfills, and requiring waste facility permit applicants to notify nearby tenants, not just property owners.

The final plan will be created with input from the Solid Waste Working Group, and from members of the public, who will be able to comment on the draft plan before it is adopted. The public comment period will likely happen in late summer, Nork said.

A bill that would prohibit state officials from issuing permits for new landfills and landfill expansions until the state’s solid waste plan is updated has passed in the House and the Senate, and awaits a signature from Gov. Chris Sununu.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
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