The Heap

Down in the Dumps

We’ve heard a lot about the tanking value of recyclables of late, but there still has been a sense that regular old garbage would continue to flow as usual, despite the slumping economy. Not so. A Los Angeles Times report details the pinch being felt by California landfills as they see less and less waste coming in and diminishing income from tipping fees.

"There always have been three givens in life: death, taxes and garbage," said Evan Edgar, a civil engineer and a regulatory advocate for the California Refuse Recycling Council. "Since the 1970s, that's been a mantra in our industry. But what this recession has shown is that we will have death and taxes, but garbage is no longer recession-proof."

Of course, looking at the big picture, the fact that Americans are producing less waste is essentially a good thing. It wasn’t too long ago that many were fretting (rightly or wrongly) about dwindling landfill space. But, as the article points out, it also leaves a gaping hole in the budgets of many municipalities and waste companies, a hole exacerbated by the lack of income from recycling. What to do?