NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Hauling Waste Across State Lines

October 13, 1998

Some states are increasing their exports of trash to other states for disposal in landfills. Trash-importing states must weigh their environmental priorities against the economic benefits involved. Some communities with large private landfills consider other states' trash their economic life blood.

According to a Congressional Research Service report:

  • With each U.S. resident producing an average of 4.3 pounds of trash a day -- twice as much as a generation ago -- 340.5 million tons of solid waste were generated last year.
  • Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois are the nation's leading trash-importing states.
  • The largest exporters are New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland and Missouri.
  • At an average of $80 per ton, Alaska has the nation's highest fees for dumping trash -- followed by New Jersey, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire and Minnesota.

About 40 percent of the nation's waste is generated by five states. California leads at 45 million tons a year -- followed by New York, Florida, Texas and Michigan. Sixty-one percent of U.S. trash is consigned to landfills, while 30 percent is recycled and 9 percent incinerated.

Waste disposal is a $36 billion a year industry and the decision to transport it interstate is usually a question of economics. The fee in New Jersey, for example, averages $61 a ton, versus $35 a ton in Virginia.

Source: Mark Truby, "More States Are Taking Out Their Trash," USA Today, October 13, 1998.


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