Rhode Island raising tip fee at largest landfill to preserve capacity, cover funding shortfall
- The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) will raise tip fees at the Central Landfill in Johnston, RI by more than 23% in July — from $32 to $39.50 per ton — as reported by ecoRI News.
- This will be the first time the state has raised tip fees since 1992 and will result in an estimated $1.05 monthly increase per household. The main reason behind this increase was to cover a funding shortfall at the state-operated site, which has had to spend more money on gas collection and air monitoring due to a recent settlement. The rate will increase further to $47 per ton by July 2018.
- RIRRC also hopes this increase will help encourage more diversion because municipalities can currently tip recyclables for free at the state's material recovery facility. Providence, known for having the lowest recycling rates in the state, presents the greatest opportunity for diversion growth. The city estimates this tip fee increase will cost them an additional $400,000 during the current fiscal year.
Based on previous estimates, Rhode Island has projected that the Central Landfill could reach capacity by 2038. As the largest of two remaining active landfills in the state (the other is projected to reach capacity much sooner) this makes preserving Central even more important for the state's long-term solid waste planning efforts. The decision to raise tip fees for the first time in more than 25 years reflects that and even with the double digit percentage jump, the fee is still below average for Northeast states.
Despite having an organics diversion requirement for select commercial generators, and recently amended regulations for composting facilities, organics processing growth has been slow in the Ocean State. Rhode Island has also received attention for becoming the first state to adopt Recycle Across America's standardized labeling system and distribute them to hundreds of schools.
Though as seen in Providence, some of the most pressing needs for improvement may be in the residential sector. The city's residential diversion rate dropped below 10% during the start of 2017 and high contamination rates have become very costly. A pilot program that issues warnings to residents for contamination has proven successful so far, with the potential to expand further soon.
Follow Cole Rosengren on Twitter