We, the Community of Curtis Bay Association (CCBA), are writing in collaboration with Baltimore’s Zero Waste Coalition to formally communicate that we find it unacceptable that our City and anchor institutions continue sending materials, the majority of which are compostable and recyclable, to the BRESCO/Wheelabrator/WIN incinerator. The incinerator is Baltimore City’ worst single source of air pollution and we can and must do better to safeguard our health, environment and equitable community economic development.
We are pleased that City leadership is committed to working to ensure that incineration is phased out in Baltimore and we are writing with concrete steps in the sequence to make this a reality. We are urging that while the BRESCO/ Wheelabrator/WIN incinerator secured another 10 year contract, that we need to accelerate implementation of scaled Zero Waste infrastructure right now. Maryland state lawmakers recently passed legislation requiring food waste generators to contract with organics processing facilities within 30 miles rather than burn or bury food waste. Baltimore currently lacks such infrastructure, presenting us with a remarkable opportunity to create jobs and help our environment and health at the same time.
A key initial phase of Baltimore’s Zero Waste plan is to take all food out of the waste stream through a coordinated effort across Baltimore’s major institutions and educational anchors to create a food waste collection and composting sector guided by a clear framework resulting in community economic development, environmental regeneration, and the creation of good sustainable jobs.
Food makes up 30-40% of the waste stream. This means up to several hundreds of thousands of tons of food waste every year in the Greater Baltimore area. Currently, Baltimore lacks permitted composting infrastructure within 30 miles leading to food waste improperly disposed of at landfills and the BRESCO incinerator. Incinerated food pollutes the air, makes us sick, and it is a major source of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas that is causing the climate crisis and global warming. When we put food into landfills it decomposes and pumps dangerous methane gas into the atmosphere, a major cause of the climate crisis and global warming.
We call upon you to take concrete actions now to affirm and advance Baltimore’s commitment to a just transition from a burning-and-burying solid waste system to a zero-waste system that directly benefits community, labor and our environment:
- Use your platform to publicly champion the development of the local compost infrastructure and hauling at scale to take all food out of the waste stream starting with the educational and institutional sector.
- Work to secure Federal infrastructure funding for Baltimore to support local green infrastructure, starting with a compost facility at the scale of the challenge. We are particularly interested in a 60 acre city owned former landfill site in Curtis Bay for this purpose.
- Call upon Baltimore’s anchor institutions to partner with the City to solve this challenge by committing to a procurement process to divert all food waste from incinerators and landfills to new local compost infrastructure.
By developing local infrastructure in Baltimore to take food out of the waste stream we can:
- Recover the value of 30-40% of the waste that is normally tossed aside in ways that endanger our communities, public health and worsen the climate crisis.
- Create nutrient-rich compost that will help farmers fertilize their crops and keep the soil rich, replacing harmful chemical fertilizers.
- Make it easier and cheaper to separate the non-food recyclables.
- Use this compost to plant special grasses on public lands removing carbon from the atmosphere to advance Maryland’s goals of a net-zero carbon footprint.
- Transform our communities by providing good union jobs that are secure and permanent.
We value your leadership and partnership in taking this achievable step in ending harmful incineration in Baltimore and facilitating development of modern infrastructure that will help make Baltimore a leader in sustainability and equitable community economic development.
Directors of the Community of Curtis Bay Association, INC