Cost of Waste

Managing waste–especially products that are hazardous and toxic–is very costly for local governments. It amounts to welfare for product brand owners.  In a time of tight budgets many local governments are asking why taxpayers and ratepayers, and not producers and consumers, are the ones paying to pick up products and associated packaging “designed for the dump.”   (See also EPR Savings)

United States

Three-quarters of the material that local governments are responsible for managing in North America is products and packaging.  A case can be made that three-quarters of municipal solid waste budgets amounts to welfare for the makers of products and packaging.  Citizens and their governments would be better served if those funds were supporting schools, police, parks and other services that the market cannot provide.


  • “California’s local governments and ratepayers, spend upwards of $500 million annually to manage products banned from landfills as well as those headed to a landfill, buried forever.”  CIWMB Fact Sheet (2009)
  • Local Governments’ Looming Fiscal Crisis, by Rob D’Arcy, Hazardous Materials Program Manager, County of Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health; and Chair, California Product Stewardship Council (2007)
  • Fact Sheet by California Product Stewardship Council (2007)

Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste District, NY  (pop. 300,000)

  • Cost in 2008 to collect and dispose electronics, mercury lights and hazardous chemicals at drop off facilities:  $206,131.  
  • SOURCE: Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority.

Fort Worth, TX Area (pop. 1,750,000)

  •  Environmental Collection Center  (Hazardous products)
    • Operating Costs – requested in FY 2008-09 budget:  $1,005,156
    • Participation Rate:  Fort Worth, 4.6%; Participating Cities, 7.8%   
  • SOURCE: Kim Mote,  Assistant Director, Environmental Management Department, Solid Waste Services Division, Fort Worth, Texas; Chair, Texas Product Stewardship Council


What are the costs in your jurisdiction?