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Coalition to Oppose Attacks on Recycling In America

January 11, 2002
Contact: Peter Anderson
cell: 608-231-1100

Waste Management Inc. Attempt to Recapture Yard Trimmings for Its Landfills Defeated in Peoria, Ill.

Peoria, IL - In what is seen by national environmental groups as the first major assault on recycling since recovery laws were enacted in the early 1990s, an attempt by garbage giant Waste Management Inc. to recapture grass and leaves for its landfills was defeated last night by the Peoria County Board.

County Board supervisor Brian Elsasser led the 11 to 7 vote to reject the motion by labeling it "a step backwards for the County's recycling efforts."

The Board heard a request, supported by the waste giant and the City of Peoria, to petition the area's legislative delegation to repeal the state's yard trimmings ban for five years. Illinois enacted a prohibition on landfilling of grass and leaves in 1990. Similar bans in 21 other states have played a major role in diversion of material from landfills. In some places these yard bans have been responsible for as much as half of recovery efforts.

The Coalition to Oppose Attacks on Recycling in America, a national coalition of environmental groups organized by Athens GA-based GrassRoots Recycling Network and including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth, rallied behind the local environmental group, Peoria Environmental Action Committee for the Earth, to defeat the first major assault on recycling since recovery laws were enacted in the early 1990s.

"Waste Management Inc. was caught with its hands in the cookie jar," said Bill Sheehan, executive director the GrassRoots Recycling Network. "The vote was a resounding victory for America's favorite environmental activity. We hope this will dissuade the waste giants from further attempts to undermine recycling and composting."

Coalition spokesperson Peter Anderson warned the County that "answering Waste Management's siren song would brand Peoria as the Dayton, Tennessee, of the 21st Century." Dayton was the location of the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1921.

Waste Management Inc., which operates the Peoria landfill, argued that yard trimmings should be returned to the landfill for a five-year test. The company claimed that the landfill was a so-called 'bioreactor' in which liquids are deliberately added to the site to encourage decomposition. It said it wanted to determine whether returning grass and leaves to the landfill would accelerate decomposition of paper and food.

In addition to the fact that repealing the ban on landfilling yard trimmings would undermine recycling efforts, Anderson advised the Peroia County Board that "the Peoria landfill actually is not even a 'bioreactor.' The request to conduct a test is just a ploy to stick the camel's nose under the tent."

A technical discussion of the issue is posted at


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