The city of Laurel, in 2025, will become the first jurisdiction in Maryland that will mandate composting

City leaders recently approved an ordinance that will require residents to separate their organic waste from their trash. The action came during a City Council session in late May, though the legislation will not take effect until July 1, 2025.

Area residents will then need to separate organic waste from their green waste, according to a press release. This means organic waste such as food scraps, food waste, food-soiled paper, and compostable plastic will go in a different bin than leaves, grass clippings, and other landscape debris.

“This type of composting program will reduce the amount of money the City pays to process our waste. I congratulate the City Council for moving forward with this, and we will all work together to make sure the community is ready when the program begins in 2025,” said Mayor Craig A. Moe, in a statement.

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Single-family and townhome owners will receive a 35-gallon brown bin on wheels with a locking lid to store organic materials. Apartment renters and condo owners — or any dwellers who have a central trash corral trash system — will receive a kitchen countertop bin with compostable bags for liners. The countertop bin also has a charcoal filter to keep the smells away.

All compostable materials will be processed at the organic composting facility at the Maryland Environmental Services Center in Upper Marlboro.

Michele Blair, Laurel’s environmental programs manager, said the city will allow residents to sign up now. She hopes to have more than 50% of residents on the the program by 2024.

“So this is why we’re putting this out there now voluntarily to our residents to work out all the kinks. Let’s see where the problem is. Let’s answer your questions,” Blair said. “Let’s roll it out and see how we can make this a better fit for our communities.”

Laurel residents are encouraged to visit, email or call 301-725-5300.

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Blair said the EPA estimates that at least 24% of what is taken to landfills is organic waste. In addition to the city potentially saving money processing waste at landfill centers, Blair said composting helps reduce methane gas emissions. The city processed 527.83 tons of waste in April, according to its latest data.

“Separating our food wastes from our trash is a powerful way that each resident can have a positive impact on the reduction of methane gases,” Blair said. “And that collectively, we can be a force of nature in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down the negative impacts of climate change.”

Penelope Blackwell is a Breaking News/Accountability reporter with The Banner. Previously, she covered local government in Durham, NC, for The News & Observer. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Morgan State University and her master’s in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. 

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