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Population growth from Micron's arrival means more curbside trash

City of Syracuse

Micron is completing an environmental impact statement looking at not just the effects of the megafab in Clay, but also the induced growth for the region from the expected nearly 50,000 jobs, with part of that review preparing for an increase in trash.

Tammy Palmer, public information officer for the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA), said more than 360,000 tons of curbside residential trash passes through the waste-to-energy facility in a year. That's right at the limit of what the plant is not only permitted but can process.

"There is a little wiggle room for us for the initial population increase that we could absorb some more curbside trash," Palmer said. "But the long-term solution is for people to produce less trash and for manufacturers to produce packaging that can be reused instead of just thrown away."

Palmer notes there isn't a landfill in Onondaga County for residential curbside trash and trash has to go somewhere.

"There are regulations that say it has to keep moving," Palmer said. "That would involve delivering it to a landfill in another county which can be very expensive and creates an extra layer of trucking emissions. But there's really no other option in Onondaga County."

"Plan Onondaga", the county's comprehensive plan approved last month, prepares for an estimated 100,000 people moving to the area because of Micron. Carson Henry, Micron's Senior Director of U.S. Expansion, said the effects of the population increase like their trash production is a part of the environmental review assessment.

"Everything is being studied," Henry said. "Every impact that we will have as well as every utility or service that's required, we're estimating what we will require and then partnering with the appropriate local authorities to make sure that we're prepared for what's coming."

The Environmental Protection Agency reports municipal solid waste in 2018 broken down per person was 4.9 pounds per day or nearly 1,800 pounds of waste in a year.

"The whole country really has been producing too much waste for a very long time without understanding the consequences," Palmer said. "We are at a crossroads now in the country and in Onondaga County with or without Micron's arrival."

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.