Sunday, June 29, 2008


The AP has a story on New York City's accelerating garbage diaspora. See: As landfills close in big cities, garbage travels farther. The story mentions in passing some of the nearby trash destinations. Here is a map (gleaned from Kate Asher's : The Works: Anatomy of a City) of where New York City's garbage winds up. It includes a surprising number of destinations in Western Pennsylvania.... many are close to Pittsburgh which is something that I bet would surprise a lot of people here if they realized it. That's a lot of traveling for garbage to do... traveling that must be getting more expensive along with everything else.

Looking at that map, I wonder whether Somerset or Bedford County, either independently or together, are the biggest destinations of New York City trash in the country. New York turns out to to be the largest exporter while Pennsylvania is both the largest importer, and net importer of municipal solid waste. You may wonder why it's legal to dump your trash in somebody else's state, but the lawyers will tell you about this little thing called the Commerce Clause.

Sam had some insightful observations when I posted that map earlier . Someone ought to look into what the impacts, economic or otherwise, are of the trash economy in Kersey, PA which is the the largest location obvious in the northwestern part of the state.


Blogger John Morris said...

I used to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which had a bunch of waste transfer stations. You could follow a truck from the station (they usually said something like Kephardt on them) onto the BQE and ultimatlely all the way down route 80 almost to Pittsburgh.

It can help with navigation. If you get lost going out of NY just follow a trash truck and it will lead you home.

Sunday, June 29, 2008 1:41:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

More specifically, the Supreme Court of the United States actually adjudicated this issue and ruled that state laws prohibiting the import of "trash" were unconstitutional as they violated the Commerce Clause. Unfortunately, I don't have the citation...

Friday, July 04, 2008 12:06:00 PM  
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