- The Maryland Environmental Service (MES), an independent, self-supporting state agency, recently announced a consulting agreement with Italy-based BTS Bioenergy to begin working on projects that the company has planned in Howard County.
- According to MES, the company will establish its North American headquarters and two anaerobic digestion facilities in Howard County. The partnership between BTS Bioenergy and MES is expected to result in an investment of up to $40 million and create up to 20 jobs.
- The facilities in Howard County will be BTS Bioenergy's first in the United States. BTS operates over 190 anaerobic digesters in Europe and Asia.
This development can be seen as further proof that, just because Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did away with the state's "zero-waste" goal, does not mean that the state government is not pursuing waste-reduction and other strategies. In fact, when Hogan tossed the existing goals, he signed a new executive order that specifically mentioned exploring diversion strategies — including anaerobic digestion.
Before that executive order, Hogan signed two pieces of legislation that could shape the future of organics processing in the state. One bill mandated a report on Maryland's current organics processing and future potential, due by July 2019. The second took effect in October, and is working to set standards for how plastic products can be labeled as biodegradable or compostable — and will eventually prohibit the sale of mislabeled products.
A recent report from BioCycle showed that anaerobic digestion growth in the U.S. can be slow. According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, there are just two anaerobic digestion projects already in Maryland — and none in Howard County, though the county is working on a biosolids project. The fact that a company from Europe chose Maryland, a state that is not currently a leader in AD, signals investment potential for more projects in the state. It is unlikely that BTS would have decided to place headquarters in Maryland if it didn't see the state as friendly for AD and AD investment.