Pennsylvania Bill Aims to Regulate Food Processing Residue to Protect Rural Communities

capitol domeCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PAState Representative Paul Friel introduced a bill this week that seeks to regulate how Pennsylvania manages food processing residue (FPR). House Bill 2393 aims to address the hazards posed by this waste in rural and agricultural areas. The bill proposes updates to the Solid Waste Management Act, adding necessary guardrails for handling FPR.

Food processing residue includes vegetable peelings, raw meat scraps, and wastewater containing blood, fat, and other byproducts. While FPR can benefit soil as fertilizer, it can cause significant problems, such as groundwater contamination and noxious odors. Surrounding states have restricted or banned FPR use, making Pennsylvania a target for cheap waste disposal.

“This bill – a bipartisan legislative solution to the problem – is the result of working with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, the departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, affected community members, farmers, conservation experts, and industry stakeholders,” said Friel. “The goal is to make sure that FPR is used responsibly, contributing to the sustainability of our food supply, enhancing the health of our soil, preserving the quality of our groundwater, and preventing odor and other quality-of-life problems for our communities.”

Currently, Pennsylvania’s regulations on FPR are minimal. If someone claims compliance with the state’s Food Processing Residual Management Manual, there is no further oversight. No tracking, testing, or complaint system exists.

To improve control over FPR, Friel’s bill proposes several key amendments to the Solid Waste Management Act:

  1. Classification System: Differentiate between sources of FPR and establish a classification system to guide safe storage, handling, and application requirements.
  2. Animal Product Processing: Require FPR sourced from animal products to be processed before storage or use on farms.
  3. Documentation Requirements: Mandate detailed documentation of the FPR’s makeup and nutrient content before application on farmland.
  4. Application Plans: Include nutrient levels in application plans, which must be reviewed by local conservation districts.
  5. Licensing: Require brokers and haulers of FPR to be licensed by the state.
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The proposed legislation aims to strike a balance between utilizing FPR as a resource and mitigating its potential risks. By establishing clear guidelines and oversight, the bill seeks to prevent Pennsylvania from becoming a dumping ground for hazardous food processing waste.

Regulating Food Processing Residue in PA: A Path to Healthier Communities

These changes could have widespread implications. Effective regulation of FPR can protect water quality, reduce unpleasant odors, and ensure the safe use of agricultural land. It also addresses public concerns about environmental and health impacts. Properly managed FPR can enhance soil health, contributing to sustainable agriculture practices.

Moreover, the bill emphasizes the collaborative approach taken to develop this legislation. Involving various stakeholders ensures the policies are practical and beneficial. This cooperation can serve as a model for addressing other environmental and public health issues.

In summary, House Bill 2393 represents a proactive effort to regulate food processing residue in Pennsylvania. By updating the Solid Waste Management Act, the bill aims to protect rural communities, enhance agricultural practices, and prevent environmental degradation. As the bill progresses, its potential to improve the quality of life for many Pennsylvanians will be closely watched.

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