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Solid Waste Management District Committee set to hold first hearing


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A committee determining what reforms might be necessary to deal with the state’s 20 solid waste management districts is set to meet next week, following a 2013 session which saw considerable attention on the states largest recycling operations.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer
Sen. Kurt Schaefer

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Boone County, proposed a bill last session to eliminate the districts and have them managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. At present, the districts are managed by a $2.11 per ton tax on solid waste at sanitary landfills and a $1.41 per ton tax on waste at demolition landfills.

Schaefer’s bid to organize them under an existing state agency would save almost $3 million in costs, but opponents said the new system would prevent the state’s recycling programs to continue to function, forcing more waste into landfills that would cause lasting environmental damage.

Sen. Wayne Wallingford R-Cape Girardeau, who sits on the Joint Committee on Solid Waste Management District Operations and has organized the first meeting on Sept. 24, says his goal was to seek a balance between saving the taxpayer money and keeping recycling programs functioning.

Sen. Wayne Wallingford
Sen. Wayne Wallingford

“We don’t want some of these things like refrigerators or microwaves or some of these plastics sitting in a landfill and ruining our beautiful state,” Wallingford says. “But we’ve also got to be conscious of how we are spending the money to recycle it. We need to learn more from these districts in terms of what they spend money on and see if we can have a more efficient allocation of resources.”

Opponents of Schaefer’s bill cite the Joplin tornado, which generated huge amounts of solid waste and kick started recycling operations throughout the region. Schaefer and his supporters argue that the money for the districts is not managed closely enough, and that there is too much room for abuse.

“We’re going to hear a lot of testimony and talk,” Wallingford says. “And hopefully we come out of that with a way to keep our recycling operations without wasting money. We’re going to educate ourselves on this issue and then we are going to make sure money is being spent appropriately.”

The committee is set to meet at 1 p.m., Sept. 24 in Senate Committee Room 1.