Fees support Wisconsin’s recycling program

MADISON — New data shows that the amount of out-of-state waste coming to Wisconsin landfills dropped dramatically in 2010, the first full year that Wisconsin instituted an increased tipping fee – the fee charged to dump waste in landfills.

“Wisconsin was quickly becoming the trash dump of the Midwest, but increasing the tipping fee has helped reverse this unfortunate trend,” said Amber Meyer Smith, director of programs and government relations at Clean Wisconsin.

Two years ago, Wisconsin’s tipping fee was significantly lower than those in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. This disparity in price provided border communities with a substantial financial incentive to export their garbage into our state. Legislators voted in 2009 to increase the tipping fee, and in 2010 the tons of out-of-state waste disposed of in Wisconsin fell 56 percent, from 1,196,170 tons to 526,437 tons, according to a recently released paper from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

“Increasing the tipping fee has helped dramatically reduce the amount of waste dumped in Wisconsin landfills from other states,” said Smith. “This is a major environmental victory that helps protect our state’s land, water and air.”

The majority of the funds collected from the tipping fee help further reduce waste in Wisconsin landfills by supporting Wisconsin’s recycling programs. Gov. Walker aims to eliminate funding for recycling programs in his proposed budget, however, and shift that money into his Economic Development Corporation. The Joint Finance Committee is set to act on the Governor’s plan to cut recycling this week.

“Raising the tipping fee funds designated for recycling and putting them into the Economic Development Corporation is unpopular and shortsighted,” said Smith. “90 percent of Wisconsin residents support recycling, and our legislators should make sure that funding for local recycling programs is fully restored before passing the budget.”