The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) released its “Analysis of MSW Landfill Tipping Fees: 2020” report Jan. 29. In the 2020 report, EREF obtained tipping fee information from 439 municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills across the U.S. These landfills were categorized as large, medium or small, depending on the accepted tonnage.
According to the report:
- 12 percent were large (i.e., accepting more than 390,000 tons per year);
- 46 percent were medium (i.e., accepting between 390,000 and 65,000 tons per year); and
- 42 percent were small (i.e., accepting less than 65,000 tons per year).
Of the landfills analyzed, the small landfills averaged 26,480 tons of incoming waste per year, medium landfills averaged 166,516 incoming tons per year, and large landfills averaged 809,455 incoming tons per year.
Small landfills accounted for the highest tipping fees for MSW ($55.72 per ton) compared with medium landfills ($50.87 per ton) and large landfills ($53.43 per ton). The average MSW tipping fee across the country was $53.72 per ton, which was a 3 percent decrease from 2019, when the average was $55.36 per ton.
Just as MSW tip fees fluctuated depending on the size of the landfill, they also fluctuated based on where the facility was located.
- The average fee in the Pacific region was $72.03. This included Alaska ($142.33), Arizona ($44.89), California ($58.48), Hawaii ($114.33), Idaho ($59.02), Nevada ($39.90), Oregon ($71.53) and Washington ($95.99).
- The average fee in the Northeast region was $68.69. This included Connecticut (no active landfills in state), Delaware ($85), Maine ($75.21), Maryland ($66.73), Massachusetts (not reported), New Hampshire ($74.34), New Jersey ($78.80), New York ($71.71), Pennsylvania ($73.45), Rhode Island ($115), Vermont ($101.95), Virginia ($53.43) and West Virginia ($54.66).
- The average fee in the Mountains/Plains region was $47.83. This included Colorado ($58.42), Montana ($32.06), North Dakota ($48), South Dakota ($51.22), Utah ($33.80) and Wyoming ($57.64).
- The average fee in the Midwest region was $47.85. This included Illinois ($51.71), Indiana ($36.27), Iowa ($47.07), Kansas ($42.79), Michigan ($42.77), Minnesota ($57.78), Missouri ($67.91), Nebraska ($41.47), Ohio ($45.39) and Wisconsin ($61).
- The average fee in the Southeast region was $46.26. This included Alabama ($32.93), Florida ($56.51), Georgia ($47.88), Kentucky ($36.32), Mississippi ($30.36), North Carolina ($45.97), South Carolina ($45.91) and Tennessee ($51.53).
- The average fee in the South Central region was $39.66. This included Arkansas ($30.53), Louisiana ($37.53), New Mexico ($38.20), Oklahoma ($44.76) and Texas ($42.22).
From 2019 to 2020, the average tip fee fell by $1 in the Pacific, increased by $2.16 in the Northeast, fell by $2.88 in the Mountains/Plains and by $1.02 in the Midwest, increased by $1.01 in the Southeast and fell by $1.26 in the South Central region.
Despite the mixed bag in increases and decreases year over year, fees clearly have been trending upward in recent years. From 2016 to 2020, average year-over-year fees have increased by 4.4 percent in both the Pacific and Northeast, 2.7 percent in the Mountains/Plains, 5.6 percent in the Midwest, 1.1 percent in the Southeast and 2.82 percent in the South Central region.
In addition to collecting MSW tip fee data, EREF also collected information relating to construction and demolition (C&D) wastes deposited at MSW landfills.
According to EREF, C&D waste is accepted at MSW landfills in 41 states and comprises roughly 12 percent of the landfilled stream. Of the 437 landfills surveyed, 277 had a specified gate rate for C&D materials, though the difference was largely negligible on average. The national average tip fee for C&D waste was $52.67. Fifty-eight percent of landfills set the same tip fees for MSW and C&D waste, C&D tip fees were lower than MSW at 23 percent of sites, and C&D tip fees were higher than MSW at 19 percent of the landfills.
In summarizing the entire subset of landfill data, the report’s authors speculate on whether a relationship exists between higher population density and higher landfill tip fees; however, regression analysis doesn’t readily show a correlation.
“A regression analysis on all tip fees collected showed a limited relationship between tip fees and population density, suggesting that the wide variation in fees is not necessarily associated with population density,” the report states. “An additional regression analysis of tip fees based on population alone showed no relationship between tip fees and total population. These mixed results suggest that greater population density and the associated increase in waste generation has a minor impact on tip fees, and factors such as interstate transport, local regulations and policies, and public/private status of the landfill might have greater influence.”