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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 20, 2024 12:31 PM
From: Representative Paul Friel and Rep. Paul Takac, Rep. Danilo Burgos, Rep. Paul Schemel, Rep. Barbara Gleim
To: All House members
Subject: Keeping Farms and Communities Safe by Managing Residual Food Processing Waste
In the past year, residents of multiple municipalities in the commonwealth have been harmed by the application of noxious food processing residual (FPR) on farmland which included groundwater/well contamination issues.  FPR is exactly what it sounds like, waste left over from food manufacturing which can include vegetable peelings, raw meat scraps, and liquid like cleaning wastewater that includes blood, fat, hair, and feathers.
In Pennsylvania, FPR can legally be applied to farmland as an inexpensive way to increase the amount of organic matter in soil, but it can also be a way to more cheaply dispose of this waste than traditional removal. Our surrounding states have largely banned the practice which means Pennsylvania is being targeted by out of state companies looking to cheaply dump their waste.
Currently, if someone complies with the Food Processing Residual Management Manual issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) there is no other regulation or oversight. However, there is no mechanism now if someone is not applying FPR in accordance with that manual, no tracking of the source of FPR, no testing, and no central complaint system for people who object to the impact of FPR on their homes and livelihoods. The FPR manual has not been updated since June 1994 and is woefully outdated.
For the last year, we have been working with the DEP and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to update the Food Processing Residual Management Manual and ensure that FPR can still be applied to farmland or stored where appropriate and when not appropriate, FPR can be processed to eliminate any negative impact that it could cause.  A report on those efforts is to be issued later this Spring but based on the work so far, it is apparent that the Solid Waste Management Act will need to be amended to accomplish our goal.
To this end, we will soon be introducing legislation that will amend the Solid Waste Management Act to:
  • Differentiate between various sources of FPR and create a classification based upon their potential risk to farms and community, these distinct categories of FPR will be used to guide safe storage, handling, and application requirements of that FPR material.
  • Require FPR that is sourced from animal products or animal product waste to be processed by a digester or another means before allowing to stored on farms or be used as FPR;
  • Require documentation of the makeup of FPR and nutrients provided prior to being applied to farmland;
  • Require the nutrient levels of FPR to be included with any application plan before being applied to farmland;
  • Require the application plan to be reviewed by a local conservation district before FPR is applied to farmland; and
  • Require brokers and haulers of FPR to be licensed by the Commonwealth.
Only by taking these actions can we protect both Pennsylvania farms AND Pennsylvania residents.  We ask that you please join us in co-sponsoring this important and timely legislation.

Introduced as HB2393