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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee counties that fail to meet the goals and deadline for state-ordered solid waste reduction probably will escape severe penalties, even though the average reduction may be only about half what the state ordered, a University of Tennessee researcher said Monday.

The 1991 Solid Waste Management Act requires counties to achieve a 25 percent per capita reduction in landfill waste by Jan 1.

Dr. Bill Park, UT agricultural economist and researcher for the UT Waste Management Research and Education Institute, said the reduction is likely to be about half what the state ordered and many counties will not meet the deadline.

Park has tracked county activity to reduce material going to solid waste landfills. He said reasons the goals were not reached include:

* Economic growth in Tennessee was about 15 percent per capita, which caused an increase in solid waste generation.

* The counties’ plans for reducing solid waste were not due until 1993, and the state still has not approved plans for some counties, leaving those counties only about two years to meet the deadlines.

* Inability of some counties to document waste reduction programs already in progress. The act had provisions to give them credit, but because of insufficient records or other reasons, the counties were unable to document and take advantage of their prior efforts.

Counties and regions which do not meet goals must show they made a good faith effort or they could lose grant eligibility and face fines up to $5,000 per day.

“The state is taking into consideration several factors involved in the waste reduction efforts of the counties and will probably be lenient toward those which fail to meet the goals by the required deadlines,” Park said.

Park said the counties will report their progress to the state in March.

“If counties have demonstrated a good faith effort — and I think there will be a good deal of flexibility in how that is viewed — I think the state will be reasonably lenient in terms of extensions to the 25 percent waste reduction deadline,” Park said.


Contact: Dr. Bill Park (423-974-7231)