Dealing with big-city garbage is big business for small towns

As landfills top off and shut down near big U.S. cities, taking in the trash is becoming a profitable enterprise for smaller towns hundreds of miles away from metropolises. Despite local concerns that landfills may cause long-term environmental problems, trash-industry execs insist communities are taking few risks when they accept big-city garbage. And many municipalities welcome the revenue. “We’re rich,” says a supervisor of Fox Township, Penn. (pop. under 4,000), which takes in 1,300 of the 50,000 tons of garbage exported every day from New York City — and has millions of dollars in the bank as a result. Nearly a quarter of all municipal trash crossed state lines on its way to a final dumping ground in 2003, according to the Congressional Research Service, and the number of states importing at least one million tons of trash a year increased from two in 2001 to 10 in 2003.