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Articles from 2005 In March


Washington-Area Governments to Rid the Potomac River of Trash

Washington -- Washington-area governments have decided to reduce trash in the Potomac River and its tributaries. Leaders from six governments, including Fairfax County, four Maryland counties and Washington, signed a “trash treaty” that aims to make the river trash free by 2013. Under the agreement, local governments will bolster recycling programs, hold annual meetings to discuss the river’s state and increase resident education. The deal was organized by leaders of the annual Potomac River cleanup, which is to be held Saturday.

USTDA To Discuss Business Opportunities In China At WasteExpo

Washington — The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is hosting a briefing at WasteExpo 2005 in Las Vegas on business opportunities in China’s growing market for solid waste equipment and services. “China Solid Waste Management Sector: Opportunities in SWM” will be held on Tuesday, May 3, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Admission is free of charge. Registration and lunch begin at 12:30 p.m., and the program starts at 1:15 p.m. The session will end at 5 p.m.

During the briefing, attendees will have the chance to meet with 12 Chinese delegates.

For more information, visit www.ustda.gov, or call Mike Koeppen or David Elliot at 202-429-5245.

Wisconsin Board Approves Bigger Landfills

Madison, Wis. — The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has voted, by a 4-3 vote, to approve a rule that would allow the size of landfills to increase, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. According to the paper, the rule would allow landfill operators to stack garbage 100 feet higher than they currently are allowed to. The rule still must be approved by state lawmakers.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s Trash Plan Garnering Criticism

New York -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s trash plan proposal has some residents concerned about its costs. City residents have argued for years that the trash plan needed to be more environmentally friendly and fair to each of the city’s boroughs, and this new plan has solved those problems, according to the New York Times. But, under the mayor’s new plan, the city would pay $500 million more over the next 20 years than it would under the current trash plan, according to the newspaper.

The proposed plan raises costs per ton to between $105 and $115, up from the $75 it currently pays. The city also would use trains and barges more than trucks to transport waste out of state. The city council, which has some members who are skeptics of the proposal, has to approve the mayor’s plan before it can go into effect. The council is to hold hearing this week to discuss the plan’s cost.

Pennsylvania Awards Recycling Grants

Harrisburg, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has announced more than $3.8 million in recycling performance grants to 158 communities based on their 2003 recycling programs. The department approved those grants from a pool of almost 800 applicants and awarded 237 grants last month as well. Performance grants are supplied from $2-per-ton tipping fees that are paid into the Recycling Fund.

Pennsylvania is a national recycling leader in terms of employment, payroll and sales. More than 81,000 workers are employed in the state’s recycling industry. The state legislature is currently considering legislation that would provide additional funding to municipal recycling programs.

Mayor Daley Defends Blue Bag Program

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is blaming residents for problems with his controversial recycling program. At a Tuesday press conference, he said residents’ apathy has led them to not recycle. "People don't recycle," the mayor said. "I don't know why. We are pulling plastic, bottles, cans, blue bags. We are doing our best."

Daley has continually defended his blue bag program that he began in 1995 and says that the city is doing a good job in operating it. The Chicago Tribune recently reported that the city’s recycling rate has dropped in the past two years. Only 90,000 tons were recovered at recycling centers last year, compared to 126,000 tons in 2000.

Chicago’s program works by residents sorting recyclables into blue trash bags that are picked up with garbage in regular trash bags, and sanitation workers are responsible for pulling the blue bags out from the other trash bags.

New Jersey Awards Grants To Get Rid Of Scrap Tire Piles

Trenton, N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has awarded a total of $2.2 million in grants to 16 local governments to eliminate stock tire piles and to run tire collection programs.

The grants range in size from $25,000 to $300,000. The largest cleanup site contains approximately 20,000 tires.

IRS Issues Guidance On Truck Excise Tax

Washington — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued guidance to help truck dealers determine when a truck body is subject to a federal excise tax. Section 4051 of the IRS code imposes a tax on the first sale of certain truck chassis and bodies. The excise tax does not apply to truck bodies and chassis suitable for use with vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight of 33,000 pounds or less, or truck trailer and semi-trailer bodies and chassis suitable for use with vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or less.

However, retailers sometimes do not know the gross vehicle weight of the vehicle onto which the body will be placed, making it hard to find out whether the body meets the above standards. The IRS guidance creates four categories of truck body types that meet the “suitable for use” standard and are excluded from the excise tax. They are refuse packer truck bodies with load capacities of 20 cubic yards or less; dump truck bodies with load capacities of eight cubic yards or less; dry freight and refrigerated truck van bodies 24 feet or less in length; and platform truck bodies 21 feet or less in length.

The classifications are effective for sales on or after April 4.

Maine Generates More Trash, Recycles Less

Augusta, Maine — A new state report shows that Maine is generating more trash and recycling less of it. According to the Bangor Daily News, the report says that the state generated more than 2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) from 2001 to 2003, which represents a 9 percent increase from the preceding two-year period. The report also shows that the state’s recycling rate decreased from 37.3 percent in 2001 to 35.5 percent two years later, according to the paper.