- Municipalities in Ontario County, NY are discussing how to spend the $18.3 million in "success payments" they have begun receiving from Casella Waste Systems for approval of a landfill expansion permit, as reported by the Finger Lakes Times.
- The funds will be distributed in installments of $1.3 million for the next 14 years. Half of that annual payment is budgeted for programs that can help achieve the county's 2014 solid waste management plan and the rest is dedicated to other county expenses.
- Qualifying projects include anything related to waste reduction, recycling or reuse. Any of the county's 16 communities can also team up for joint projects.
These funding decisions are part of Ontario County's new strategy to achieve a 60% landfill diversion rate by 2024. The county's current rate is closer to 40% and waste audits from Casella found that about 30% of the material ending up mixed with waste is recyclable.
While the sums may seem small compared to the budgets behind similar efforts in larger cities these funds could make a difference if targeted effectively. If a statewide commercial organics diversion requirement is passed, the funds could be useful for education around food waste reduction and donations, or even for subsidizing the start-up costs of a small composting operation. According to a recent state report, investments in this policy could lead to millions of dollars in economic benefits.
It's not uncommon for landfill operators to provide financial benefits to host communities, often through free collection or disposal, but pushback from some communities has led them to make this role more visible. Casella is currently emphasizing community relations around proposed landfill expansions in Massachusetts and Maine, and Waste Connections has taken a similar approach at a site in New York. Even the most well-run landfills can be a tough sell for communities, meaning residents want to hear more about how they can reduce their dependence on them in the long run.