Reversing a Trend

Virgina remains the second-largest waste-importing state, trailing Pennsylvania. It has, however, managed to buck a long-standing trend of annual increases in the amount of out-of-state waste its landfills accept. In a recently released report, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reveals that the amount of solid waste received from other states dropped nearly 10 percent in 2005 to 762,000 tons compared to 2004.

In a statement, Gov. Timothy Kaine called the decrease “good news” and added, “Accepting less trash from other states will help conserve landfill capacity and ensure that the Commonwealth will be able to meet its own disposal needs in the future.”

While the report does not provide explanations for the decline, the governor's office and DEQ cited the following as possible factors: less storm debris, a decrease in construction and demolition (C&D) waste from the construction industry and fewer facilities taking out-of-state waste. They also suspected that increases in fuel costs could have been a cause based on reports from solid waste management facilities.

During 2005, Virginia facilities received a total of nearly 24.5 million tons of solid waste, with 17.5 million tons coming from within the state. Nearly 80 percent of it was landfilled, and 10.5 percent was incinerated. Compared to 2004, solid waste originating in the state dropped 9.4 percent. The steepest declines, however, came in the area of C&D. Other states sent 35.4 percent less of the material, and in-state C&D decreased 24.5 percent.

Almost 97 percent of the imported waste came from five jurisdictions: Maryland, New York, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and New Jersey.