- Palm Beach County’s Solid Waste Authority in Florida is importing trash from Broward County to burn at a new waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerator, launched beside its landfill, which is expected to generate $18 million over five years. The $600 million WTE project will add 30 years to the landfill's life and increase trash-burning capacity, which private hauler Broward-based Sun Recycling will use to dispose of trash outside Palm County.
- Meanwhile, proposed Florida legislation could limit such deals with private haulers, as changes to state law "seek to set more limits on the competition private trash disposal companies face from local government," as reported in the Sun Sentinel.
- Palm County has trucked in 130,000 tons of trash from Broward since it began doing business with Sun Recycling last year. The trash importing arrangement will cut annual residential trash bills by about $5 per home.
City officials and neighborhood groups have protested the decision to bring in more trash, namely complaining about garbage truck traffic and the likelihood of odors and litter. Environmental advocates warn of air pollution from incineration. However, the Solid Waste Authority countered that incineration is less harmful to the environment than landfilling extra garbage and that there have been no complaints to date.
Then there is the debate over the proposed legislation – with questions raised over whether local governments should be restricted from making deals with private companies that, according to Palm Beach County Mayor Mary Lour Berger, are good for taxpayers.
"It's clearly coming against home rule," Berger said of the legislation.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick said it’s not appropriate for the county to make decisions about trash importing and, further, a mere $5 reduction in garbage fees does not justify taking in more garbage.
"Pennies. It lowers everybody's assessments by pennies," Burdick said.