Green waste is becoming a problem for landfills in Summit County. That's because the waste, which has previously been accepted for free, is now becoming a liability.
That's according to Summit County Solid Waste Superintendent Jaren Scott, who says a change in the landfill fee structure is needed in order for landfills across the county to continue operating efficiently.
Green waste is a biodegradable waste that can include any sort of plant material as well as domestic and commercial food waste.
The root of the problem, Scott says, is that many businesses and non-residents from outside of Summit County take advantage of the lack of green waste fees in the county to dump enormous amounts of waste that pose the risks of fire hazards and attracting animals.
"Green waste is an issue where it's never been charged for. And so because of that, it's been abused," Scott said. "People outside of Summit County have brought their waste [here] because other landfills do charge for that material.
Part of the fee schedule resolution, which was passed 4-1 several weeks ago by the County Council, is that it will no longer charge by the type of vehicle an individual is driving in to the landfill, but rather the weight of the material. Incoming material will be charged $25 a ton and there will be a $10 minimum for up to 800 lbs. of material.
The change in fees is necessary, Scott says, because the landfill operation last year was changed from a general fund budget to an Enterprise Fund. This means it is no longer funded by property tax revenues but rather is based on the revenues the landfills have coming in at the scales.
"The landfill is not costing taxpayers any money. It's actually being paid for by those who use it," Scott said. "[The changes] will help to make everything systematic, fair and similar for everybody."
Instituting such fees, Scott's report says, would both deter those from outside the county from bringing huge amounts of waste to Summit County landfills and also allow the county to pay for the chipping of green waste to be re-used and recycled.
The remaining space in the landfills will continue to become more costly as new cells are created and permitted, the report says.
"We look at the landfills as a value. The value of the landfill is the space in it," Scott said. "Anything that occupies space needs to be charged for."
Summit County has two landfills: the Three Mile Canyon landfill in Coalville and the Henefer landfill in Henefer.
Another part of the new landfill changes includes a re-use program. At the Three Mile and Henefer landfills in specific, valuable materials are thrown away that under state law cannot be salvaged by individuals. This program would allow a separate 're-use area' where items of value can be set aside. Items will be available for $5 each in this area.
Other changes include a $25 per ton and $10 minimum charge for animal carcasses as well as a change in the tire disposal fee structure.
Scott is confident that the new changes will help landfills in Summit County better sustain themselves, and stresses the importance of being fiscally responsible when not funded by taxpayer dollars.
"We are an enterprise fund and need to be conscientious of our fees and how we pay for things," Scott said.
For more information on the new landfill fee changes, which have been instituted on July 1, visit www.summitcounty.org/landfill.