NHDES Issues 2020-2021 Biennial Solid Waste Report

November 7, 2022

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has issued the 2020-2021 Biennial Solid Waste Report. The key purpose of the document is to report New Hampshire’s progress toward reaching the solid waste reduction goal to reduce the quantity by weight of solid waste disposed by 25 percent by the year 2030, and by 45 percent by the year 2050. The report provides strategies for achieving the goal, as well as a summary of the Solid Waste Management Bureau activities during calendar years 2020 and 2021. NRRA has compiled some key takeaways from the report.  

Solid waste generated per person: NHDES estimates that in 2020, approximately 2 million tons of solid waste were generated in New Hampshire. This equates to a generation rate of 8.0 pounds per person per day (1.46 tons per person per year). 

Out-of-state solid waste disposed in NH: The report shows the total quantities of solid waste disposed in New Hampshire for 2018 through 2020. The vast majority of out-of-state waste disposed in New Hampshire is received by three commercial landfills. In 2020, of the 1,956,789 total tons of waste disposed in New Hampshire, the percentage of out-of-state waste was 47%. 

Major types of solid waste: Municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition debris (C&D) together comprise the majority of all solid waste disposed in New Hampshire facilities. For the years shown in the report, MSW makes up about 60% of total waste disposed, and C&D about 15%. The remaining roughly 25% is comprised of asbestos-containing waste, sludge from wastewater treatment facilities, non-hazardous contaminated soils (primarily from construction/excavation projects) and other specialized wastes, including wastes from industrial processes.

Estimated recycling rate: For 2020, NHDES estimated a municipal recycling rate at 26%. The report acknowledged that NHDES lacks refined data to more accurately estimate the recycling rate. Going forward, NHDES hopes to be able to collect better data to produce more comprehensive estimates for recycling and other diversion activities. 

Solid Waste Management Bureau program areas: Following restructuring and rebuilding of the NHDES Solid Waste Management Bureau, the Bureau is now structured with four essential program areas: (1) permitting of solid waste facilities; (2) compliance assurance for solid waste facilities; (3) materials management, education, and planning; and (4) reporting, information and financial management. 

Solid Waste Rules readoption: All of the Solid Waste Rules are due to expire in 2024 and will need to be readopted. Bureau staff are compiling suggested changes and additions to the rules they administer. 

Solid Waste Management Plan: NHDES’ recently issued Solid Waste Management Plan incorporates goals, strategies and actions that will guide NHDES’ efforts to encourage waste reduction and diversion in support the disposal reduction goal.

NRRA looks forward to continuing to assist NHDES with planning for New Hampshire's solid waste future through NRRA's ongoing participation in the Solid Waste Working Group.