LANDFILLS: Southeast Shows Increase In

Throughout the Southeast region of the United States, landfill tipping fees have risen to an overall average of $28, according to a survey conducted by Draper Aden Associates, Richmond Va.

The survey, the 1993 Status of Solid Waste Management, reported that tipping fees in the Southeast are still on the rise, up approximately 12 percent from 1992 (see chart this page). In the past three years, tipping fees rose 17 percent between 1990 and 1991 and 21 percent between 1991 and 1992.

Some of the increased tipping fees are the result of the Subtitle D regulations, according to Mary Burton, Draper Aden's marketing director. In states where the regulations have not been adopted, such as Alabama, the tipping fees are low. In the 1993 survey, Alabama's average tipping fee was listed at $16, the lowest in the report. But for states that anticipated the regulations, the fees are higher. For instance, in Maryland, which anticipated Subtitle D regulations and observed them since 1988, the average tipping fee was listed at $42.

Availability of land and how much waste is being placed in the landfill are other factors that increased tipping fees, said Burton. Fees are much higher in states where available land is at a minimum, such as Florida's average landfill fee of $48, the highest in the survey. As regulations become stiffer, said Burton, the tipping fees will continue to rise. "It would seem logical for tipping fees to rise because people are having to invest more into their landfill and there is much more stress on local finance so there is more of a reason to make a landfill pay for itself," Burton said.

To minimize tipping fees, approximately two-thirds of the landfills will be subsidized with government funds or a combination of tipping fees and local funds, said Burton. This year's survey was mailed to 1,015 solid waste facilities in the Southeast region and received a 34 percent response rate from within the region, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

In addition to landfill tipping fees, the survey examined recycling, groundwater monitoring, scales and liners. All of the respondents, except Alabama, have recycling programs. On average, 20 percent recycle their waste stream with specific percentages ranging from 6.5 percent in Tennessee to 22 percent in Florida, which also reports that 100 percent of its localities recycle. Seventy nine percent of the respondents monitor groundwater; 72 percent weigh their wastes; and 25 percent have lined landfills.

Not only are landfill tipping fees on the rise, so are tipping fees for waste-to-energy facilities. In a non-related survey conducted by Governmental Advisory Associates, and published in its 1993-94 Resource Recovery Yearbook, waste-to-energy (WTE) tipping fees in the South rose from $7.43 in 1982 to $45.41 in 1993, indicating a 611 percent increase. National WTE tipping fees were found to have increased more than 477 percent over the past 11 years. The national survey found that the mean WTE tipping fee for 1993 was $56.39.