Not only did the price per ton for landfilling go up in 2022, it showed a significantly higher year-over-year increase. | StockStudio Aerials/Shutterstock

Recently published data shows landfilling was considerably more expensive last year than in 2021.

The Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) on June 7 published its analysis of landfill tip fees last year, finding that they rose significantly from the previous year’s prices. 

Generally speaking, more expensive landfilling means a greater incentive to recycle materials, although public policies, types and qualities of scrap materials, the availability of end markets and other factors also play into whether materials end up being recycled or not. 

In its report, the nonprofit research organization found the U.S. ton-weighted average tip fee was $60.34 per ton in 2022, up over 11% from the prior year. The unweighted average for 2022 was $58.47 per ton, up 8%. 

The unweighted average is simply the average of all prices received from the 348 landfills surveyed last year, regardless of the size of the landfill. The weighted average is based on the relative amount of MSW disposed of at each facility and the tip fee at each location – the ton-weighted average is meant to account for differences in the amount of trash disposed of in each state. 

For both metrics, the 2021 to 2022 increase was greater than in prior years. The ton-weighted average increased 2% from 2018 to 2019, increased 2% from 2019 to 2020 and fell 1% from 2020 to 2021. The unweighted average increased 5% from 2018 to 2019, fell 3% from 2019 to 2020 and increased 1% from 2020 to 2021. 

Different regions of the U.S. have vastly different tip fees, but EREF found that all regions experienced price increases in 2022. The percentage increases were anything but uniform, however. The unweighted average price change was 9% in the Northeast, 6% in the Pacific states, 22% in the Midwest, 12% in the mountain/plains states, 29% in the south-central region and 2% in the southeast. 

EREF compared the tip fee trends with rising prices in several sectors, including vehicle manufacturing, motor vehicle repair, employee wages and the consumer price index in general. The researchers said the data suggested rising costs in all areas contribute to higher landfill tip fees. 

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