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Coalition to Oppose Attacks on Recycling In America

January 09, 2002
Contact: Bill Sheehan
GRRN Executive Director
(Bill Sheehan)

Recycling Leader Charges Waste Management Inc.'s Campaign To Landfill Grass Clippings Is Plot To Hike Prices

Athens, GA - Waste Management Inc.'s campaign to send grass and leaves to landfills was branded today by a leading recycling advocate as "a thinly disguised plot to hike prices for consumers and businesses without helping the environment."

"Wall Street reports now show us what is really going on," said Bill Sheehan, executive director of Athens-based Grassroots Recycling Network (GRRN). The Company is playing destructive games with America's proud recycling efforts in order to gouge its customers."

In Peoria, Illinois, Waste Management Inc. (WMI) is pushing for repeal of the state's
11-year old law that bans the landfilling of yard trimmings, also known as 'green waste' because it is so easy to recycle in composting programs. The garbage company claims it wants to test how grass and leaves will decompose in the landfill that it operates for the City and County.

But the true motivation, Sheehan pointed out, is in a Wall Street commentary urging the Big Three waste companies (WMI, Allied Waste and Republic Services) to increase volumes to landfills in order to restore "pricing power" - which is the euphemism used by financial markets for monopoly pricing.

Sheehan said that waste industry financial analysts are complaining that the recession has reduced construction activity along with waste from those sites going to landfills. Complaints by investors have created pressure to tighten landfill supply by increasing demand.

"What better way to increase waste - and waste revenues -- than by increasing waste disposal volumes?" Sheehan asked. "Green waste will go up more than 15% when landscape trimmings start going back to landfills."

"If Waste Management's trial balloon in Peoria were to succeed," Sheehan observed, "demand for landfills would increase, pricing power would return to the Big Three (who own most of the large new landfills) and prices charged to communities and businesses in places like Peoria for basic waste services would almost certainly soar."

Sheehan pointed out that Waste Management Inc. had jacked up tipping fees by as much as 86% in selected markets when it thought supply had tightened in the Northeast in 1999.
"If bans on landfill disposal of yard trimmings are repealed, disposal markets will tighten in those states, and prices will jump," Sheehan predicted. "For every 1% increase in charges for waste services, prices will increase by approximately $303,100 in Peoria County and $19 million in Illinois.

"But the worst part of this sordid story," said GRRN's Sheehan, "is that the environment will suffer. When green waste rots in landfills it contributes to global warming and increases risk to local water quality. When it is composted in people's back yards or in community compost centers, it produces a valuable product."

The GrassRoots Recycling Network ( is a North American network of waste reduction activists and professionals dedicated to achieving sustainable production and consumption based on the principle of Zero Waste.

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