Just in time for the World Series matchup between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Times profiles an unlikely bond between the two cities: New York’s garbage.
“There has been plenty of trash-talking this past week by fans of the Yankees and Phillies,” according to the Times article. “But for years, New Yorkers have been quietly doing more than talking trash about Philadelphians: they’ve been sending it.” Indeed, the paper reports, New York sends about 2,500 tons of garbage daily to mega-landfills in northern Pennsylvania.
About 30 miles away from the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park, a 6,000-acre landfill complex spans the suburban communities of Morrisville, Tullytown and Falls Township. There, soil-topped mounds of garbage overlook the Delaware River, but to a reader’s surprise, the landfill doesn’t much bother the neighbors.
Then again, the host municipalities are raking in millions every year to house the garbage. New York City pays Waste Management, the company that runs the landfill complex, and Waste Management pays the municipalities.
Two years ago, Waste Management paid $17.4 million in host fees to Bucks County, Tullytown and Falls Township. In Tullytown, 740 property owners received $5,000 checks in the mail this year, a benefit from proceeds of Waste Management fees. It used to be that Tullytown residents received $1,500 each, but this year business was booming. Each municipality had a surplus of $50 million.
“New York’s trash is our cash,” Dan Dougherty told the Times.
New York City produces an astounding 25,000 tons of residential and commercial refuse each day, according to the city’s Department of Sanitation. That’s an astounding 3.3 million tons of residential waste each year, amounting to a $1 billion a year “trash problem” that local officials have tried to remedy.
Since it closed the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island in 2001, the city has outsourced its garbage to other states. In 2009, 932,536 tons of New York City garbage ended up in Waverly, Va. One of the three Morrisville-area landfills raked in 283,902 tons.
Over the past four decades, Pennsylvania has become a major destination for the trash of its neighbors, but a recent report said the recession has taken a toll. Nationwide, the amount of waste generated in 2008 fell to 505 millions tons, from 508 tons in 2007. (That year, the numbers declined for the first time in two decades.)
Up close, the Pennsylvania landfill doesn’t look like the dumps of old. In Tullytown, a soil-topped mound rises 240 feet about sea level. The complex includes freshwater lakes and misting devices to reduce odor. It also has the largest solar-panel farm on the East Coast.
But Tom Wisnosky, Morrisville’s mayor and director of the morning newscast on New York’s Channel 11, said: “We have to put up with it because it’s there.” He added, “As far as jumping for joy that we’re waving at your trash as it comes down the highway, that’s really not happening here.”