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TRASH Act Would Give States Ability to Leverage Own Solid Waste Management Plan to Create Higher Standards and Thereby Restrict Interstate Waste Imports / Plan Would Also Allow States to Impose Higher Fees on Out-of-State Waste

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he has introduced legislation, the TRASH Act, to restrict the flow of out-of-state trash into Pennsylvania. The legislation would give states the ability to leverage their own solid waste management plans to create higher standards thereby restricting interstate waste imports. The bill would also allow states to impose higher fees on out of state waste.

“Pennsylvania shouldn’t be a dumping ground for trash from other states,” Senator Casey said. “This legislation would give all 50 states more control over the solid waste coming into their states. The TRASH Act allows states to devise a policy that works for the needs of local communities.”

Trash Reduction And Sensible Handling (TRASH) Act

The TRASH Act would affect interstate shipment of municipal solid waste by:

  1. Allowing a State, through its State solid waste management plan, to restrict interstate waste imports by setting higher standards for waste handling within the State.
    • For example, if a State or local municipality requires certain amounts of recycling, composting, or waste reduction measures, that State would be able to restrict out-of-State waste unless the exporting State complies with the same or higher standards.
  2. Allowing a State, through its State solid waste management plan, to impose a higher fee on out-of-State waste (regardless of the exporter’s compliance with in-State waste handling and reduction measures). The fee would be called a community benefit fee, which a State may provide to an affected community. States would be allowed to differentiate the fee on waste disposed of at a landfill versus at an incinerator or waste-to-energy facility.

PA municipal solid waste disposal facts

Municipal waste is generated by 12 million Pennsylvania citizens, the government and upwards of thousands of commercial businesses across the state. According to DEP, since 2006:

  • The annual quantity of municipal waste from Pennsylvania managed at Pennsylvania’s landfills and resource recovery facilities has decreased from 10.3 million tons to 8.5 million tons in 2013.
  • The per capita disposal of municipal waste in Pennsylvania decreased from 4.53 pounds/person/day to 3.7 pounds/person/day in 2013.
  • Out of state waste decreased from 9.2 million tons/year to 6.4 millions tons/year in 2013.
  • Pennsylvania is a top waste importing state. In 2014, out-of-state waste (including MSW, residual, construction waste, etc.) came from:
    • New Jersey – 3,516,904 tons
    • New York – 2,682,977 tons
    • Maryland – 593,230 tons
    • West Virginia – 170,903 tons
    • DC – 75,110 tons
    • Delaware – 64,452 tons
    • Connecticut – 43,123 tons
    • Ohio – 38,545 tons
    • Virginia – 4,590 tons
    • Massachusetts – 1,809 tons
    • Puerto Rico – 1,646 tons
    • North Carolina – 1,254
    • California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin – minimal amounts (under 300 tons)

National municipal solid waste disposal facts

Top trash importing states in 2007 were Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. Top trash exporters were New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri and Maryland, as well as Ontario, Canada.

According to EPA, in 2012, Americans generated about 251 million tons of MSW. Of this, we:

  • discarded about 135 million tons of MSW (53.8%) in landfills
    • food waste is the largest component of discards at 21%
    • plastics comprise about 18%
    • paper and paperboard make up almost 15%
    • rubber, leather, and textiles account for about 11% of MSW discards
  • recycled and composted materials comprised of almost 87 million tons of total MSW, equivalent to a 34.5% recycling rate
    • over 65 million tons of MSW reduced through recycling
    • over 21 million tons reduced through composting
  • combusted (with energy recovery) about 29 million tons for energy recovery (about 12%)
  • recycled and composted 1.51 pounds out of our individual waste generation rate of 4.38 pounds per person per day
  • combusted or discarded in landfills 2.9 pounds per person per day of MSW, when subtracting out what is recycled and composted
  • recovered about 96% (2.8 million tons) of lead-acid batteries
  • recovered about 70% (5.9 million tons) of newspaper/mechanical papers
  • recovered over 57% of yard trimmings (19.6 million tons)