Current Press Releases

Jan 28, 2014


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Chris Saeger
Directors Office

Paul Driscoll




Helena, Mont. -- The amount of solid waste recycled from Montana landfills continues to rise as residents take advantage of the social and environmental benefits of recycling and composting, according to a recent survey by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The DEQ annually surveys solid waste management facilities such as landfills, transfer stations, compost operations, and recyclers. The latest data from 2012 indicates the state diverts almost 22 percent of its solid waste through recycling and compost efforts.

By statute the DEQ has a target to divert 22 percent of generated solid waste for the calendar year 2015, according to Bonnie Rouse, manager of the Recycling and Compliance Assistance program at DEQ. The state is well positioned to exceed the goal, she added. The survey for 2003 – the first conducted – indicated about 15 percent was either recycled or diverted.

Materials diverted from Montana landfills include paper products, plastics, aluminum, and ferrous and mixed scrap metals (excluding junked automobiles). Organic materials such as landscape waste, sewage sludge, and construction and demolition debris, as well as electronic or e-waste is also either diverted or recycled, Rouse said.

The survey data indicates more than 1.6 million tons of municipal solid waste was generated in Montana in 2012. Of this amount, more than 350,000 tons were either collected for recycling or otherwise diverted from the waste stream, such as through composting programs. Rouse noted the tonnage landfilled in 2012 actually decreased by almost 103,000 tons from 2011, while the amount recycled or diverted increased by 26,446 tons over the same period.

“Recycling generates real economic benefits for Montana communities,” noted DEQ Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “Recycling employs people across the state at the same time as it conserves valuable resources and saves energy.”

Rouse said recent state investment in a Hub-and-Spoke recycling program among smaller communities may have contributed to the growth. That program is designed to offer better collection and marketing opportunities by networking neighboring rural towns. Whatever the cause, Rouse said a national recycling calculator indicates the state saved 13.6 million BTUs of energy. She added the reporting mechanism is “extremely conservative” and that the state likely recycles and diverts solid waste at an even higher rate. The data shows Montanans generate about 8.8 pounds of solid waste per day per person and that about 1.9 pounds per person per day is recycled or diverted from the waste stream. That’s a bit higher than the national average on both fronts, Rouse said.

For more information on recycling and composting in Montana, the public can visit the DEQ Recycling Program on the web at: The most recent survey on landfill diversion is available at this page: Figures for 2013 will be released in the fall of this year.

To schedule an interview, contact:

Paul Driscoll
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Planning, Prevention & Assistance Division
Office: 406-444-6421

Chris Saeger
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Communications Director
Office: 406-444-2667
Mobile: 406-461-6183


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