This post has been updated with a comment from the National Waste & Recycling Association.
- The Georgia State Legislature is considering a bill that would raise disposal fees payable to local governments from operations at privately owned waste disposal facilities. The measure, SB 385, would raise the fee from $1 per ton to $3 per ton. C&D waste or inert waste will have a disposal fee of $1.
- If signed into law, the bill would go into effect July 1, 2018. The bill passed in the Georgia Senate and is currently in committee in the Georgia House.
- David Biderman, CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), told Waste Dive he was monitoring the legislation but that the Georgia chapter of SWANA had not taken a position on the bill. The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) said it opposes the bill as it was passed in the Senate, but "is active in working with the bill's sponsors" to resolve what the organization sees as "outstanding issues."
While the disposal fee would increase by $2 per ton, the permitted uses for those collected monies would remain the same — offsetting the impact of the facility, public education about solid waste management, the cost of solid waste management and the administration of a local solid waste management plan.
While the State Senators who sponsored the bill did not respond to requests for comment, it is reasonable to surmise that a goal of the bill, if passed into law, is to increase municipal funds in the state. The original law, which implemented a $1 per ton fee, was first enacted in 1992. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, the proposed $3 per ton disposal fee exceeds inflation by $1.20.
With tipping fees up an average 3.5% as of July 2017, an increase in fees to be paid per ton is not likely to be seen as welcome by haulers in Georgia, as evidenced by NWRA's lobbying against the bill. While each truckload may only be a few dollars, that expense can quickly add up in a 7-day-a-week job.
Additionally this year, the Georgia State budget includes an additional $400,000 for solid waste cleanup activities. With the recent nomination of Peter C. Wright, an attorney with Dow Chemical, to oversee the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Land and Emergency Management, it may be a good time for states to be investing in their solid waste cleanup.
While EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has made cleaning up of contaminated sites a priority, Wright has previously advocated for handing more cleanup authority to the states. And cleanup is not likely to be the only state-level item that addresses solid waste management. In a recent panel at SWANApalooza, Biderman said Congress has a hard time "agreeing that the sun is going to rise tomorrow," so he sees it as unlikely that a federal landfill tax or landfill disposal fee would be enacted any time soon.