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[GreenYes] PRESS RELEASE: WMI Attempt to Recapture Yard Trimmings for Its Landfills Defeated in Peoria, Ill.
January 11, 2002
Contact: Peter Anderson  
608-219-0655 mobile; 608-231-1100


(PEORIA, Ill.)  In what is seen by national environmental 
groups as the first major assault on recycling since recovery 
laws were enacted in the early 1990s, an attempt by garbage 
giant Waste Management Inc. to recapture grass and leaves 
for its landfills was defeated last night by the Peoria County 

County Board supervisor Brian Elsasser led the 11 to 
7 vote to reject the motion by labeling it "a step backwards 
for the County's recycling efforts."

The Board heard a request, supported by the waste 
giant and the City of Peoria, to petition the area's legislative 
delegation to repeal the state's yard trimmings ban for five 
years.   Illinois enacted a prohibition on landfilling of grass 
and leaves in 1990.  Similar bans in 21 other states have 
played a major role in diversion of material from landfills.  
In some places these yard bans have been responsible for as 
much as half of recovery efforts.  

The Coalition to Oppose Attacks on Recycling in 
America, a national coalition of environmental groups 
organized by Athens GA-based GrassRoots Recycling 
Network and including the Sierra Club, the Natural 
Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth, rallied 
behind the local environmental group, Peoria Environmental 
Action Committee for the Earth, to defeat the first major 
assault on recycling since recovery laws were enacted in the 
early 1990s.

"Waste Management Inc. was caught with its hands in 
the cookie jar," said Bill Sheehan, executive director the 
GrassRoots Recycling Network.  "The vote was a 
resounding victory for America's favorite environmental 
activity.  We hope this will dissuade the waste giants from 
further attempts to undermine recycling and composting."

Coalition spokesperson Peter Anderson warned the 
County that "answering Waste Management's siren song 
would brand Peoria as the Dayton, Tennessee, of the 21st 
Century."  Dayton was the location of the Scopes Monkey 
Trial in 1921.

Waste Management Inc., which operates the Peoria 
landfill, argued that yard trimmings should be returned to 
the landfill for a five-year test.  The company claimed that 
the landfill was a so-called 'bioreactor' in which liquids are 
deliberately added to the site to encourage decomposition.  
It said it wanted to determine whether returning grass and 
leaves to the landfill would accelerate decomposition of 
paper and food.  

In addition to the fact that repealing the ban on 
landfilling yard trimmings would undermine recycling 
efforts, Anderson advised the Peroia County Board that 
"the Peoria landfill actually is not even a 'bioreactor.' The 
request to conduct a test is just a ploy to stick the camel's 
nose under the tent."  

A technical discussion of the issue is posted at 


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