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The waste disposal industry operates largely at the local level, and a 2001 snapshot of the U.S. waste disposal enterprise by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) estimated that there were an estimated 27,000 organizations, private sector companies and public or quasi-government organization providing solid waste collection and/or disposal in the United States.  More than 55% of these were in the public sector, while the remaining 45%, were privately held.

The continued operation and maintenance of landfills and recycling facilities is self-funded through trash collection fees. The national mean annual tipping fees were $50.59 per ton in 2014.  The 136 million tons disposed of in 2014 equates to $6.8 billion in tipping fees. In some cases, local governments even use the fees as an income source. Federal and state oversight is funded through license fees. There is, however, a lack of funding for research and for seed capital to help make recyclable materials more marketable and new innovative ways to manage MSW for a useful purpose of benefit (i.e. waste to energy) or new technologies, which would prevent solid waste from entering a landfill (i.e. anaerobic digesters and plasma gasification). Additional funding mechanisms are needed to help transition to a system that recognizes MSW as more of a resource to be utilized than waste to be disposed.

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