$1 solid waste tax proposed

It looks like a bill that would tax solid waste at $1 a ton to finance municipal recycling programs will be considered next week by the New Hampshire House.

Landfill operators would be responsible to pay the tax, but the cost will probably be passed on to their customers, particularly commercial customers that dispose of much of their waste.

Town dumps that don’t accept out-of-state trash will be exempt from the tax

Sponsors of House Bill 634 – which won the unanimous support of the House Environmental and Agricultural Affairs Committee – said they introduced the measure to boost the state’s recycling goal to 40 percent.

Currently, the state’s recycling rate has plateaued at 27 percent, and state funding for recycling programs has all but dried up, said Rep. Emma L. Rous, D-Durham, sponsor of the bill.

The bill originally included a tiny retail tax (.000025 percent) on disposable goods, but the state Retail Merchants Association staunchly opposed any sales tax, no matter how small. Rous said that a disposal tax was more acceptable to business, but said she expected some opposition next week in any case.

Still, she argued, businesses can benefit from the measure. About half the waste comes from out of state, so this is a way the state can capture some of that money. In addition, businesses generally save money by recycling, and the bill would give them a push in the right direction.

Indeed, one of the non-profit organizations that would get some of the funding – WasteCap – is an affiliate of the Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire.

“They need to learn what the economic gain is,” said Rous.

At least one business is opposed to the proposal — Waste Management, Inc, which operates the largest landfill in the state.

“Most of this is going to be passed on though the municipality to the local property tax,” said Henry Veilleux, who represents the trash conglomerate in Concord. “So it’s an unfunded mandate in disguise. Waste Management doesn’t want to be the tax collector for the state.” – BOB SANDERS

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