New Hampshire's New Solid Waste Management Plan

October 4, 2022

After many months of work and public input, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has published the 2022 New Hampshire Solid Waste Management Plan, now available on NHDES’ website. The 10-year plan incorporates suggestions received through a public comment period and from the New Hampshire Solid Waste Working Group, which was established in the summer of 2021 to assist NHDES with planning for New Hampshire's solid waste future.  Members of the Solid Waste Working Group include NRRA Executive Director Reagan Bissonnette and representatives from NRRA member communities Lebanon, Lancaster, and Keene. 

The Solid Waste Management Plan provides goals and actions intended to achieve the state’s overarching disposal reduction goal established in RSA 149-M:2 – which aims to reduce disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition debris (C&D) by 25% by 2030 and by 45% by 2050.  

The plan incorporates goals, strategies, and actions reducing solid waste disposed of in New Hampshire. While NRRA was among other organizations and commenters that urged NHDES to draft the plan with an eye toward SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound - the final plan does not describe in detail how the plan will be implemented.  Rather, NHDES intends to develop short-term implementation plans to prioritize actions, measure progress, and track timeframes for completion.  

Some key priorities emphasized in the plan include the need for:

  • Significant financial investments from the public and private sectors to build infrastructure that expands capacity for reuse, recycling, composting, and other diversion methods across New Hampshire.
  • Statewide waste characterization and generation studies to inform what waste types should be prioritized for waste reduction and diversion, as well as what facility infrastructure will be necessary to facilitate diversion.
  • Establishing reliable funding sources to ensure the success in achieving the goals identified in the plan.
  • Public and private partners to engage in more regional, cooperative efforts. 

In a recent interview with New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR), Reagan noted potential next steps for the plan, including a waste characterization and generation study, while continuing to focus on improved infrastructure in the state to manage increased recycling and composting. Reagan noted, "Ideally, we would have more opportunities to keep materials in the state of New Hampshire for processing, which is going to reduce costs for communities and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

In recognition of NRRA's demonstrated history of assisting communities in New Hampshire to manage their own recycling programs, the Solid Waste Management Plan identifies NRRA as a potential partner organization to achieve the plan's goals to improve waste management in New Hampshire.  NRRA also provided data and information to assist NHDES with developing Appendix B (page 30), which provides a snapshot of typical costs, revenues and logistical considerations that New Hampshire municipalities must consider when managing solid waste. 

NRRA looks forward to continuing to assist NHDES with the development of  its first short-term implementation plan through NRRA's ongoing participation in the Solid Waste Working Group,  while continuing to support NRRA Members across New Hampshire with technical assistance and materials marketing.

Read the full NHPR Article, "A long-awaited update to New Hampshire’s trash plan is out. What’s next for solid waste?"