recycling: New York State's Recycling Exports Continue to Increase

New York State continues to watch its waste. In fact, municipal solid waste (MSW) in the Empire State increasingly is recycled and exported, while overall generation rates are holding steady, according to "Where Will the Garbage Go?," a report from the New York State Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management, headquartered in Albany.

The report's 1998 edition notes that MSW generation in 1997 remained virtually unchanged from 1996's all-time high of 21.6 million tons [see chart above]. State landfill disposal, which accounted for approximately 9 million tons of MSW managed in 1997, decreased by 800,000 tons, or 8 percent. Recycling now manages 23.6 percent of the waste stream, or approximately 5.1 million tons, as identified by the municipalities.

The state's recycling efforts have increased significantly every year since the commission started collecting municipal recycling data in 1990, including a 10.8 percent increase from 1996 to 1997. Last year's recycling increase, which totaled nearly 500,000 tons, was due to gains in recovery of yardwaste (200,000 tons) and mixed paper (142,000 tons). Comingled containers, ferrous metal and non-ferrous metal also registered substantial recycling increases.

Waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities combusted 3.7 million tons in 1997, an increase of 40,000 tons or 1.2 percent more than the amount processed in 1996. Although WTE facility use has increased nearly 150 percent since 1986, the yearly amount of waste disposed through WTE is expected to level off, due to the closure of one facility in 1997 and no other WTE facilities slated for construction.

MSW exports from New York to other states increased in 1997, rising to more than 3.7 million tons from 3.5 million tons in 1996. But this one-year, 6 percent increase is due in part to the incremental closure of New York City's Fresh Kills landfill.

Located in Richmond County, Fresh Kills is a 3,000-acre landfill the state has ordered to be closed by the end of 2001. 1997 recorded a drop of approximately 500,000 tons disposed at Fresh Kills, and its continual closure is expected to increase exports even more dramatically in the next few years. This, combined with the closure of several medium-sized landfills in 1996, has lead to the substantial statewide landfill decrease.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, D-East Setauket, the commission chair, has expressed concerns over Fresh Kills' near-term closure. "The anticipated closure of New York City's 50 year-old Fresh Kills landfill by the end of 2001 will require approximately 3.5 million tons of MSW - 27 percent of all garbage disposed of in New York State during 1997 - to shift to other sites," he says. "Facilities in other states initially will provide much of the needed capacity, but can millions more tons of MSW be transported out of state for the long term?"

Consequently, Englebright is encouraging the public and private sectors to intensify the development of non-polluting technologies that process waste into clean fuels and other products, such as specialty chemicals used in manufacturing or construction.

The report projects clean fuel production technologies as the basis for significant waste management in the future, replacing aging WTE systems and all but a few landfills.

According to the report, the state is willing to work with the federal government and private sector to fulfill two requirements for bringing the technology development to full potential: 1) greater access to capital; and 2) more experience with commercial-sized projects.

For a copy of the report, contact the Legislative Commission on Solid Waste at: 4 Empire State Plaza, 5th floor, Albany, N.Y. 12248. Phone: (518) 455-3711. Fax: (518) 455-3837.

Acquisitions Waste Industries Inc., Raleigh, N.C., has acquired TransWaste Services Inc.'s collection operations in southern Georgia, including four transfer stations and a C&D landfill. TransWaste also has acquired Railroad Avenue Disposal, Memphis, Tenn., and the assets of Greater Atlanta Sanitation Inc., Lilburn, Ga.

American Disposal Services Inc., Burr Ridge, Ill., has acquired 12 companies: Rohrig Sanitation Service Inc., Wheeling, W.Va.; Culver Hauling Service, Prospect, Ohio; Brian's Sanitation, Leeper, Pa.; Forlines, McAlester, Okla.; D&D Sanitation, Kinta, Okla.; Your Trash Service, Wilburton, Okla.; Collins Waste, Miami, Okla.; R.P.E. Disposal Inc., Richmond, R.I.; D&B Refuse Service, Sullivan, Ill.; Captain Hook Disposal and Standard Waste Inc., Decatur, Ill.; and Andres Sanitation, Mattoon, Ill.

Eastern Environmental Services Inc., Mt. Laurel, N.J., has completed its acquisition of the city of Bethlehem, Pa.'s 200-acre municipal solid waste landfill. It also has completed its acquisition of Atlantic Waste Disposal Inc.'s Subtitle D landfill in Waverly, Va., and 1,000 ton per day transfer station in Brooklyn, N.Y.