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Waste Reduction and Diversion

Reducing the generation of waste and diverting recoverable materials from disposal.

The Solid Waste Management Act establishes a waste reduction goal (RSA 149-M:2) and a hierarchy or preferred waste management methods (RSA 149-M:3) in order to encourage and support an integrated system of waste management that reduces the generation of waste where possible, while also managing the waste that is generated in the most environmentally-responsible manner available. While the Solid Waste Management Act does not establish waste reduction or recycling as mandatory practices in New Hampshire, the statute does encourage management of wastes in accordance with the Waste Management Hierarchy and discourages disposal of recyclables by landfilling or incineration.

New Hampshire’s Waste Management Hierarchy

Waste reduction inverted pyramid most preferred to least preferred.New Hampshire’s Waste Management Hierarchy provides a standard of preference for management of solid waste in the state, with priority placed on approaches that reduce the generation of waste or divert recoverable materials from disposal in landfills or incinerators. Source reduction (that is, reducing generation of waste at the source) is at the top of the hierarchy because such practices prevent waste from being generated, which results in less waste needing end-of-life management, conservation of resources, and reduction in overall environmental impacts. Of course, it is not always feasible to reduce or prevent waste from being generated. Therefore, the next preference on the hierarchy is diversion. The concept of diversion includes management methods that recover discarded materials so that they are reused or repurposed instead of disposed in a landfill or incinerator. This includes methods such as recycling and composting. Next on the hierarchy are waste-to-energy technologies, including incineration with energy recovery, anaerobic digestion, and emerging conversion processes that turn waste into fuel. These technologies are preferable to traditional disposal methods because they can recover energy, reduce volume and weight, and in some cases produce useful by-products. Meanwhile, traditional disposal methods such as landfilling and incineration without energy recovery have lowest preference on the hierarchy and should be reserved for wastes that cannot be source-reduced or diverted.