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July 27, 2010

MADISON - The amount of waste sent to landfills in Wisconsin decreased sharply in 2009, according to data compiled by the Department of Natural Resources. The amount of out-of-state waste disposed of in state landfill declined even faster than waste generated within the state.

Every year, landfills are required to report to the DNR the tonnages of all waste received at their facilities from both in-state and out-of-state sources.

The total amount of waste disposed of in landfills in 2009 dropped 15 percent, from 10.3 millions tons in 2008 to 8.8 million tons, in 2009. Waste from households, institutions and commercial establishments (referred to as municipal solid waste) dropped the most -- 22 percent from 2008 to 2009 (6.2 to 4.8 million tons).

During the same period, waste coming to Wisconsin landfills from other states decreased 31 percent. After peaking in 2004 at 2.2 million tons, out-of-state waste has fallen by almost half. The 2009 total of 1.2 million tons was the lowest since 1997. The majority of out-of-state waste comes from Illinois and Minnesota.

The amount of waste coming to Wisconsin landfills may be down for several reasons, according to Ann Coakley, director of the DNR Waste and Materials Management Program.

"The economic downturn that began in 2008 led many households and businesses to scale back purchases in 2009, which means less material was thrown away," she said. "We are seeing this pattern all over the country. In addition, high fuel prices probably discouraged long-distance hauling of waste into Wisconsin."

Coakley said an increase in the state landfill tipping fee also may have reduced the amount of waste disposed of by communities and made it less attractive to haul out-of-state waste to Wisconsin landfills for disposal. The state's tipping fee on municipal waste rose from about $6 per ton to nearly $13 per ton in 2009.

The state-imposed landfill tipping fee varies according to the type of waste thrown away. Revenue from tipping fees is used to support the state recycling program and other state environmental and energy programs.

For complete 2009 landfill tonnage report is available on the waste management pages of the DNR website, along with more information on Wisconsin's waste imports and exports.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ann Coakley - (608) 261-8449

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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