Why Waste Management is lobbying to repeal America's most important recycling laws

ISince 2009, Waste Management (WM) has been aggressively lobbying to repeal state laws that promote composting by banning yard trimmings from landfills, first in Florida and then in Georgia, and in both cases, it prevailed by pulling out all stops. This year WM is going after the composting law in Michigan.

Why would a company that claims to be "green" lobby, and lobby hard, to repeal one of America's most important recycling laws.

The answer lies in the way the trash titans make their money, which is from their landfills that return 3 times the profitability of recycling, as well as underpin its market power. Here is how Wall Street analysts describe it -

"Recycling has decimated aggregate volume growth in the traditional waste management business ... [R]ecycling has long been the enemy of the solid waste industry, stealing volumes otherwise headed for landfills ... [L]ess recycling should lead to accelerating disposal volumes, which in turn should lead to pricing leverage for landfill operators." (Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Environmental Services, "Solid- Waste Pricing Debate Intensifies," March 2, 1998.)

This threat to the profits of wasting led to early efforts at the turn of the century to repeal the state laws that diverted yard trimmings away from landfills, which were fortunately defeated in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.

But, since 2008, the amount of garbage going to landfills has plummeted by about a third, partly due to the Great Recession, but more due to expanded diversion programs and the decline of paper used for news

The company claims that it will offset the loss to composting by generating electricity with the methane from decomposing yard trimmings at its landfills. But, this is a false statement. In fact, almost all of the methane will be generated immediately when dumped into a landfill long before collection systems intended to capture the gas are functioning. The little bit that is not will decay only long after the power units are removed.

Concerned citizens should be told the truth about Waste Management's actions that threaten one of the key pillars of recycling, and are inconsistent with a company that advertises "Think Green."