Congressional Research Service
Report for Congress

Interstate Shipment of Municipal Solid Waste: 1995 Update

James E. McCarthy
Specialist in Environmental Policy
Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division
May 5, 1995
95-570 ENS


This report provides 1993 data on interstate shipment of municipal solid waste for 39 States, the Canadian province of Ontario, and the District of Columbia. Included are data for all major importers and exporters of such waste.

Of the major recipients, Indiana and West Virginia showed substantial decreases in imports in 1993, while Pennsylvania and Illinois experienced increases.

Shipments from the two largest exporters, New York and New Jersey, remained relatively stable; Illinois and Ontario, ranked third and fourth in 1992, both appear to have exported substantially less in 1993.

Total shipments across State lines totaled 13 million tons in 1993 if exports are totaled, or 14.5 million tons if import data are totaled. Both figures represent an apparent decrease from the previous year.


Trends in Waste Imports
Waste Exports
Types of Facilities Receiving Waste Imports

Table 1. Exports of Municipal Solid Waste in 1993
Table 2. Imports of Municipal Solid Waste in 1993
Table 3. Net Exporters of Municipal Solid Waste in 1993
Table 4. Net Importers of Municipal Solid Waste in 1993
Table 5. The Amount and Destination of Exported MSW, the Number of Landfills, and the Amount of Imported MSW, by State

Interstate Shipment of Municipal Solid Waste: 1995 Update


This report provides 1993 data on imports and exports of municipal solid waste (MSW) for selected States. The States include all major importers and exporters identified in previous surveys undertaken by CRS. Earlier versions of this report have been sent in memorandum form to several congressional requesters; this report supersedes those earlier versions and contains some minor revisions.

The report provides four summary tables which show exports of MSW ranked by State (table 1), imports of MSW ranked by State (table 2), and net exports and imports by State (tables 3 and 4). Detailed State information, including in many cases the origins and destinations of waste shipments and the name and contact information for State officials who provided data, is displayed in table 5.

As noted in previous CRS reports on this subject, the quality of data available varies greatly from one State to the next, since many States do not have reporting requirements for waste exporters or waste management facilities. As a result, what is presented here should be considered a best estimate. In addition, we have not contacted all 50 States, although we believe we have reached all of the major importers and exporters.

One result of the incomplete reporting is that data on exports and imports do not match. This is apparent when one compares exports from one State to another as reported by both the receiving and sending States. For example, New Jersey reported total MSW exports of 1,578,000 tons; but Pennsylvania alone reported imports of 1,837,000 tons from New Jersey, and Ohio reported substantial New Jersey shipments as well. Similar anomalies are found in Ohio and Illinois reports concerning exports from Indiana, although the numbers are smaller.

When one totals our export estimates, the result is a national total of 12,962,000 tons. Total import estimates were 14,451,000 tons. Both are lower than comparable CRS data for 1992. In the case of exports, the total is about 10 percent less; measuring imports, the total is 1.3 percent less.

Unable to reconcile the data, we have generally reported export data as reported by the exporting States, and import data as reported by the importing States. In some cases, where export data were unavailable, we estimated or provided partial data available from recipient States. Where there appeared to be major discrepancies between export and import data, we attempted to identify them.

Trends in Waste Imports

Of the major waste importers, several showed stable or declining levels of imports in 1993. Indiana and West Virginia were the most notable in this regard: Indiana's imports declined 55 percent compared to the previous year, and West Virginia's declined 38 percent. Ohio's imports declined slightly in 1993, and represented a decline of more than 50 percent from the peak year of 1989. Virginia, which had reported major increases in 1992, also apparently stabilized imports in 1993.

There were some States showing increases, however. Pennsylvania, already the Nation's largest importer in 1992, showed a further increase of about 600,000 tons in 1993. It now accounts for more than one-fourth of total waste imports nationally. Preliminary data for 1994 indicate a further increase of nearly 500,000 tons. Illinois has not yet compiled 1993 data, but several landfills in the State have expanded their business in the last two years. As a result, the State expects imports to show an increase, while exports from the State have decreased. Connecticut, which was not on our list for lack of data prior to last year, reported importing 750,000 to 800,000 tons of waste in 1993. New Hampshire also reported an increase: it imported more than 500,000 tons in 1993, about a 30 percent increase from the previous year estimate.

Waste Exports

Of the major exporters, New York and New Jersey shipped about the same amount out of State in 1993 as in 1992, but Illinois and Ontario (Canada) -- the third and fourth largest exporters in 1992 -- both showed substantial declines. Illinois' exports declined more than 600,000 tons. Ontario's exports, reported at 1,430,000 tons in 1992, were less than half that amount in 1993. Part of the Ontario decline represents a clarification of what types of waste were included in the 1992 figure: it included substantial amounts of construction and demolition debris, which is not technically MSW. But there was also a substantial real decline in exports, primarily the result of a decrease in tipping fees at disposal sites in the metropolitan Toronto area. CRS estimates Ontario's 1993 exports to the United States at 250,000 tons of MSW, down nearly 500,000 tons from 1992. A further decline may be evident in 1994.

Another exporter likely to show a decrease in 1994 is New Jersey, the Nation's second largest exporter of MSW. The State believes its exports decreased about 500,000 tons from 1993 levels in 1994, because of new in-State capacity. Official figures confirming this, or otherwise, were not yet available at the time we contacted the State. New York, on the other hand, thinks exports may have increased in 1994; like New Jersey, it did not have a final estimate at the time we contacted them (late March 1995).

Types of Facilities Receiving Waste Imports

While most of the out-of-State waste appears to travel to privately owned landfills, in some States a surprising amount goes to publicly owned facilities which probably have the authority to restrict out-of-State waste under current law, should they desire to do so. In Indiana, for example, 68 percent of the out-of-State waste went to public landfills. In Pennsylvania, 6 of the 34 facilities importing out-of-State waste were publicly owned. In Connecticut, about one-third of the waste imported went to waste-to-energy facilities that are publicly owned or have mixed public-private ownership.

These facilities may have authority to restrict out-of-State waste under what is called the "market participant exemption to the dormant commerce clause." Under this doctrine, affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1976, when State and local governments participate in a market rather than regulate the market, the dormant commerce clause does not apply. Thus, government-owned facilities may discriminate against out-of-State commerce in most cases.

The remainder of this report consists of five tables, summarizing waste export and import data. Additional background information concerning this issue and data for States that do not appear in this report can be found in an earlier CRS report, Interstate Shipment of Municipal Solid Waste, CRS Report 93-743 ENR, August 31, 1993.

Table 1. Exports of Municipal Solid Waste, 1993 (in tons)

State Quantity Exported
New York 3,900,000
New Jersey (a)1,578,230
Illinois (b)1,000,000
Missouri 970,000
Pennsylvania (b) 800,000
Washington 710,515
District of Columbia (c)565,034
Rhode Island (b)550,000
Massachusetts (b)400,000
Ohio 340,573
Iowa (b)270,000
Kentucky (b) 252,719
Ontario, Canada (d) 250,000
Texas (b) 230,000
Minnesota 200,000
Maryland (b)197,790
Delaware (e) 178,985
West Virginia (b) 120,000
North Carolina 96,000
Indiana (f)85,109
Michigan (b)67,000
California 60,000
Maine 41,700
New Hampshire (g)34,593
Virginia (b)30,000
Wisconsin (g)30,000
Idaho 25,000
North Dakota (g) 9,000
Oregon 5,000

a. New Jersey is one of the few States to distinguish MSW from other waste shipped to MSW disposal facilities. The State reports exports of 1,578,230 tons of MSW in 1993, but it also exported 932,024 tons of other waste to out-of-State MSW landfills.

b. CRS estimate based on partial information.

c. A landfill does not exist within the District, but the District owns land in Lorton, Virginia, on which both a landfill and a waste-to-energy facility operate. The District of Columbia Department of Public Works does not consider waste sent to these facilities to be out-of-State waste shipments since the disposal facilities are on land owned by the District.

d. CRS estimate based on partial information. Ontario also exports substantial quantities of construction and demolition waste, not estimated here.

e. First processed as refuse-derived fuel.

f. As reported by Indiana. Two receiving States, Illinois and Ohio, report receiving more than three times as much waste from Indiana as Indiana reports in exports.

g. 1992 data.

Source: CRS, based on telephone interviews with and data provided by State program officials. States not listed in this table were not able to provide data, but generally concluded that only small amounts of MSW, if any, left their States for disposal.

Table 2. Imports of Municipal Solid Waste, 1993 (in tons)

State Quantity Imported
Pennsylvania (a)3,847,000
Ohio 1,670,914
Virginia 1,500,000
Illinois (b)1,030,000
Indiana 821,600
Oregon 800,877
Connecticut 775,000
Massachusetts 700,000
Kansas 700,000
West Virginia 525,000
New Hampshire 520,445
Wisconsin 359,213
Kentucky (d) 212,000
New Mexico 209,500
New York <200,000
Maine 142,640
South Carolina 96,000
Nebraska (c)78,000
Nevada (b)62,700
Maryland 55,000
Tennessee (e)51,149
North Dakota (b)40,000
Missouri 30,000
Washington 26,993
Utah 16,674
Montana 12,500
Louisiana (e)5,652
Michigan n.a.

a. In addition, Pennsylvania received 1,060,000 tons of other waste (sewage sludge, medical waste, ash, construction/demolition waste, or asbestos) from out-of State for disposal at MSW landfills in 1993.

b. CRS estimate.

c. 1991 data.

d. 1994, estimated by CRS, based on State data for first three quarters of the year.

e. July 1992 - June 1993.

f. As reported by North Carolina, July 1992 - June 1993. "Imports" are defined as waste originally from out-of-State, including waste from other States and from other countries.

Source: CRS, based on telephone interviews with and data provided by State program officials. States not listed were generally unable to provide data. Most of these concluded that they did not receive major quantities of municipal solid waste from out-of-State. An exception to this generalization is Michigan. Because Michigan believes it is a major importer, it is listed in the table, even though we were unable to estimate the amount of waste it received.

Table 3. Net Exporters of Municipal Solid Waste, 1993

State Net Exports (tons)
New York 3,700,000
New Jersey 1,578,230
Missouri 940,000
Washington 683,522
District of Columbia 565,034
Rhode Island 550,000
Iowa 270,000
Ontario, Canada 250,000
Texas 230,000
Minnesota 200,000
Delaware 178,985
Maryland 143,000
North Carolina 96,000
California 60,000
Kentucky 40,000
Idaho 25,000

Source: CRS, based on data reported in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 4. Net Importers of Municipal Solid Waste. 1993

State Net Imports (in tons)
Pennsylvania 3,047,000
Virginia 1,470,000
Ohio 1,330,341
Oregon 795,000
Connecticut 775,000
Indiana 736,500
Kansas 700,000
New Hampshire 486,000
West Virginia 405,000
Wisconsin 329,213
Massachusetts 300,000
New Mexico 209,500
Maine 100,940
South Carolina 96,000
Nebraska 78,000
Nevada 62,700
Tennessee 50,000
North Dakota 31,000
Illinois 30,000
Utah 16,000
Montana 10,000

Source: CRS, based on data reported in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 5. The Amount and Destination of Exported MSW, the Number of Landfills, and the Amount of Imported MSW, by State

State Amount
MSW Exported
Destination of Exported Waste Number
MSW Landfills
Number of Landfills Receiving Out-of-State Waste and Type (Public/Private) Amount
MSW Imported
Arkansas State does not have a reporting system, but believes it exports small amounts. Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee 25 Only a few. N.A. Laura Mack, Arkansas Dept. of Pollution Control and Ecology, (501) 562-6533
California approximately 60,000 tons, according to Nevada. Nevada. Shipments to Washington will begin later in 1994. 318 none none Stacey Surmano, CA Integrated Waste Management Board, (916)255-2706
Colorado State has minimal reporting requirements. N/A 76 5 have taken occasional loads of out-of-State waste N.A. Pam Harley, Colorado Dept. of Health, (303) 692-3440
Connecticut "very little"; State does not have a reporting system Massachusetts 12 landfills 5 WTE facilities 4 landfills (3 private, 1 public); 5 WTE facilities; 1 transfer station 750,000 to 800,000 tons in 1993. Judy Belaval, CT Dept. of Environmental Protection, (203) 566-5847
Florida none N/A. 77 landfills 14 WTE facilities 1 (land is publicly owned, but facility is privately operated) The State believes that there are small amounts, but there is no reporting system. Richard Tettler, FL Dept. of Environmental Protection (904) 922-6104
Georgia State has no tracking system, but sparsely populated counties in the SW and NW corners of the State are believed to export MSW. Florida, Alabama, Tennessee 180, of which 50-60 will close by the end of the year. 4 large private landfills are believed to accept out-of-State waste N.A. David Gibbons, Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources, (404) 362-2692
Idaho Approximately 25,000 tons per year. two landfills in Washington, one in Missoula, Montana. 35 none none Katie Sewell, ID Department of Health and Welfare, (208) 334-5860
Illinois About 1,000,000 tons in 1993, according to two neighboring States: 661,221 tons to Indiana, a decline of 50% from the previous year; 325,458 tons to Wisconsin, about the same as 1992. Indiana and Wisconsin 58 as of 10/94 36 1,030,000 tons in latest reporting period (4/1/92-3/31/93), 38% of which was from Missouri, 19% from Iowa, and 16% from Indiana. Mike Nechvatal, Illinois EPA (217)785-8604
Indiana 85,109 tons in 1993, according to Indiana. Two receiving States, Illinois and Ohio, report receiving more than three times as much waste as Indiana reports in exports. Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan 64 3 public landfills. The publicly owned facilities receive 68% of the waste. 821,600 tons in 1993, a 55% decrease from 1992. Elizabeth San Miguel, IN Department of Environmental Management, (317) 233-5747
Iowa No reporting system; however, Illinois reported about 200,000 tons of imports from Iowa; Nebraska reported about 70,000 tons in 1991. Illinois and Nebraska. Small amounts to Wisconsin.
Kansas Minor amounts crossing the border. N.A. 60 5, all privately owned About 700,000 tons in 1993, mostly from Missouri. Tom Gross, Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment (913) 296-1590
Kentucky No reporting system for exports; but other States reported receiving at least 250,000 tons from KY in 1993: Ohio, 139,228; Indiana, 58,340; Tennessee, 41,150; Illinois, 14,000. Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Illinois 32 8 private, 1 public 159,891 tons during the first three quarters of 1994: 48% from Ohio, 25% from Indiana, 12% from NY, 10% from W. Va. Mary Ann Goins, KY Department of Environmental Protection (502) 564-6716
Louisiana No reporting system for exports. N.A. 33 probably 3 or 4 5,652 tons (7/92-6/93), mostly from Texas and Mississippi Dennis Duszynski, LA Dept. of Environmental Quality, (504) 765-0249
Maine 41,700 tons in 1993. N/A 47 landfills, many of which will close this year; 4 WTE facilities No imports to landfills. WTE facilities do import waste. 142,640 tons in 1993. Denise Lord, ME Department of Environmental Protection, (207) 287-5300
Maryland No tracking system. Pennsylvania reported 197,790 tons of MSW and 110,308 tons of other waste from Maryland in 1993. Pennsylvania 22 landfills 4 WTE facilities 1 private landfill landfill is authorized to accept about 55,000 tons per year Ed Dexter, MD Dept. of the Environment, (410) 631-3364
Massachusetts No comprehensive data, but at least 200,000 tons per year are exported from the Boston area to New Hampshire New Hampshire (plus 8 other States, according to NSWMA) 118 landfills, 9 combustors About 12 private landfills and most of the combustors. N.A. Previous year estimates were 600,000-800,000 tons. Rhode Island and New York are main sources. Erin Walter, Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection, (617) 292-5989
Michigan No tracking system. However, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois report receipt of 67,000 tons of MSW from Michigan. N.A. 110-120 N.A. State believes it is receiving increasing amounts of imports, particularly from Ontario, Canada. Jim Sygo, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, (517) 373-9523
Missouri 970,000 tons in 1993. Exports are expected to increase in 1994 and 1995. Illinois and Kansas were the main destinations. Small amounts may go to other border States. 33 1 private landfill 30,000 tons in 1993. Matt Gaunt, Mo. Department of Natural Resources (314) 526-3942
Montana small amounts North Dakota 76 in 1994, approximately 40 of which were closing 3 public landfills 2 private landfills 10,000 to 15,000 tons John Dilliard, MT Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, (406) 444-1430
Nevada none N.A. approximately 70 in 1994, many in the process of closing 1 private landfill 62,000 tons in 1993, mostly from California David Emme, NV Division of Environmental Protection, (702) 687-5872, ext. 3001
New Hampshire 34,593 tons in 1992. The State believes there has been a decrease since then. Massachusetts (80%) Maine (20%) 40 landfills 3 WTE facilities 2 private landfills; small amounts at WTE facilities 520,445 in 1993, mostly from Massachusetts. Amount increased approximately 30% in 1993. Parker Morgan, NH Department of Environmental Services, (603)271-2901
New Jersey 1,578,230 tons (plus 932,024 tons of other waste, mostly ash and construction and demolition waste). Total is expected to decline by about 500,000 tons in 1994. Pennsylvania (78%) Virginia (19%) West Virginia (2.5%) 12 landfills 5 WTE facilities 1 public landfill very small quantities from New York. Gary Sondermeyer, NJ Department of Environmental Protection and Energy, (609) 530-8117
New Mexico None N.A. 90 1 large private landfill; perhaps small amounts at a few small landfills. 209,500 tons in 1993, mostly from El Paso, Texas. David Duran, New Mexico Environmental Department, (505) 827-2775
New York 3.9 million tons Major amounts to PA, OH, VA, and WV. Minor amounts to CT, MA, and IN. 50 as of December 31, 1993. 18 of the 50 have been ordered to close. 2 private landfills 1 private WTE facility < 200,000 tons, mostly from Canada. Amount is declining this year. Tom Lynch, NY Department of Env. Conservation, (518) 457-6603; and Erica Heintz, Leg. Commission on Solid Waste Manag., (518)455-3711
North Carolina 96,600 tons from July 1992 to June 1993 South Carolina 64 1 private landfill small amount from Danville, VA; began shipments in August 1993. Paul Crissman, NC Dept. of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources (919) 733-0692
Ohio 340,573 tons in 1993 71% went to Michigan; the rest to Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Indiana 57 1 public landfill 19 private landfills 1,670,914 tons in 1993, a decline of 7.1% from 1992. Principle sources were NY (36%), PA (24%), and NJ (16%). Carolyn Watkins, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, (614) 644-2826
Oklahoma N.A. NSWMA reports small amounts of exports to four States. Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Texas N.A. BioCycle survey reports 40. N.A. Small amounts from Arkansas and Texas, according to NSWMA.
Ontario, Canada 1,430,000 tons of waste exports in 1992, about half of which was MSW. Exports have decreased since then because tipping fees in the province have been cut about 50%. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. N.A. Ontario does not import MSW from the United States. None. Bruce Pope, Ontario Ministry of Energy and Environment, (416) 325-4420
Oregon "Not very much." One area in eastern Oregon exports about 5,000 tons per year. Idaho Not sure: "they're closing right and left." BioCycle survey reported 83 in 1993. Two major landfills, some minor. All privately owned. 800,877 tons in 1993, mostly from Washington. Deanna Mueller-Crispin, OR Dept. of Environmental Quality (503) 229-5808
Pennsylvania approximately 800,000 tons Ohio and West Virginia 47 28 private landfills, 3 public landfills, 3 public WTE facilities 4,906,855 tons in 1993, 78% of which was MSW; 47% from New Jersey and 34% from New York. Imports increased in 1994 to Sally Lohman, PA Department of Environmental Resources (717) 787-7382
Rhode Island No records. Massachusetts estimates that it received 500,000 to 600,000 tons from Rhode Island in 1992. Massachusetts 5, one of which handles 90% of the State's waste. none none Chris Shaffer, RI Department of Environmental Management, (401) 277-2797
Tennessee N.A. State does not require reporting of exports. NSWMA reports small amount of exports to six States. 85 7, private 51,149 tons between 7/1/92 and 6/30/93; about 80% from Kentucky, the rest mostly from Arkansas and Mississippi. May include non-MSW. Glenn Pew, TN Dept. of Environment and Conservation (615) 532-0818
Texas more than 200,000 tons in 1993, acc. to New Mexico. New Mexico, Arkansas 247 18 facilities receive out-of-State waste, but virtually all of the waste is sludge or industrial waste, not MSW No MSW, but landfills in the State received 172,451 tons of out-of-State waste in 1993, more than 80% of which was sludge from New Jersey; the rest was Primarily industrial waste from La. and Mexico. Linda Haynie, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, (512) 239-6821
Utah Two small towns in southern Utah (combined population, 300) export waste to Arizona. Arizona 54 landfills, only 7 of which handle more than 100 tons per day 1, private, a 2,400 acre site in Carbon County. 16,674 tons of MSW in 1993; none in 1994. However, the State imported 685,772 tons of industrial waste in 1994. Jeff Emmons, Utah Dept. of Environmental Quality (801) 538-6748
Virginia 27,598 tons from August to December 1993. North Carolina 135 public landfills 7 private landfills 5 in 1992. Two-thirds oaf the waste goes to a private facility. Most of the remainder goes to a public facility. 1.5 million tons in 1993. Deanna Sampson, VA Department of Environmental Quality, (804) 762-4375
Washington 710,515 in 1993 Oregon 24 2 landfills, 1 public 26,993 tons in 1993, from Idaho; additional amounts may come from Oregon and British Columbia Ellen Caywood, Washington Dept. of Ecology (206) 407-6132
West Virginia No tracking system. Ohio and PA reported 98,968 tons from WV in 1993; Kentucky also imports about 20,000 tons Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania 38, of which 16 to 17 were scheduled to close by the end of 1994 9 private landfills 500,000 to 550,000 tons in 1993, a 38% decline from 1992 Charles Capet, WV Department of Commerce, labor, and Environmental Resources, (304) 558-6350
Wisconsin About 30,000 tons according to Illinois, 4/1/92-3/31/93. Illinois 53 13, of which 9 are privately owned. Only 5% of the imports go to public 359,213 tons in 1993, of which 91% is from Illinois, 8% from Minnesota, 1% from Iowa. Wayne Ringquist, WI Dept. of Natural Resources (608) 267-7557
Wyoming small amount recycling 76 1 private landfill < 100 tons per year David Finley, WY Department of Environmental Quality, (307) 777-7752

N.A. = not available

WTE = waste-to-energy facility