Solid Waste Management and Recycling Study
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Frederick County, Maryland operates an integrated solid waste management system that manages over 175,000 tons of solid waste annually within the county, with operations that include single stream recycling, organics composting, solid waste transfer, and disposal facilities.

Over the past 15 years the State of Maryland has enacted a series of legislative goals that systematically raise requirements to increase recycling, energy recovery, and diversion of waste from landfilling. The State's Zero Waste Plan targets incremental increases in waste diversion and recycling from 35% to over 80% by 2040. The target for organics diversion rises to 90% over this period. The county currently achieves an overall waste diversion rate of over 50%; however, in an effort to stay ahead of State requirements, they retained Geosyntec to support their efforts to identify and review potential options for increasing recycling and waste diversion rates over both the near- and long-term horizons.

Geosyntec's Scope of Services

Geosyntec provided a comprehensive suite of services to assist the county with long-term planning. Because solid waste management and associated services can become lightning rods for public opinion, the county Executive wanted to ensure high levels of public participation in the decision-making process. Geosyntec assembled an experienced team to facilitate a series of workshops (Solid Waste Public Forums) in which citizens were informed of the county's current operations and waste stream data, and asked to provide their opinions, goals, and suggested criteria for evaluating improvements in recycling and waste diversion within the county. Information from the workshops was synthetized into a usable format and paired with Geosyntec's knowledge of proven waste diversion and processing technologies to guide selection of and investment in future waste management activities.

Geosyntec's evaluation of different solid waste management options and technologies includes cost-benefit analysis, lifecycle cost and environmental footprint assessment, review of operational complexity, and ease of integration into existing county programs. Based on this, Geosyntec helped the county develop a strategic plan for phased implementation of selected systems to meet incremental recycling and diversion goals through 2040, initially focusing on composting of food scraps from residences, restaurants, and public schools.

Notable Accomplishments

Geosyntec's support enabled our client to identify potential paths for increasing waste diversion and recycling to meet their goals for sustainable waste management. Our professional's experience and understanding of advanced yet workable solid waste management systems and technologies allowed us to develop prioritized, actionable recommendations, providing critical input to guide future steps toward higher waste recycling and diversion while avoiding potential costly mistakes associated with unproven or speculative concepts and technologies.

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Project Summary

  • Location: Frederick County, Maryland
  • Client: Frederick County Government, Maryland
  • Project Practice Areas: Waste Management
  • Type of Facility: Solid Waste
  • Services Provided: Public Outreach; Organizational Review; Review of Hard and Soft Infrastructure Programs and Technologies for Increasing Waste Diversion and Recycling in the County; Lifecycle Assessment of Shortlisted Options; Strategic Planning for Phased Implementation of Countywide Composting Program
  • Type of Work: Planning and Assessment
  • Governing Regulation: Maryland Recycling Act