According to Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, or IEPA, there are seven active landfills in northwestern Illinois, known as Region 1. Trash is dropped by the ton every day from counties around the region. Landfills in Ogle County take some of Chicago’s waste. Haulers from Iowa and Wisconsin contribute to the sites, and some of California’s trash has been sent to Ottawa’s LandComp Landfill. But trash can turn to treasure for some counties. That’s because of host agreements.

Haulers must pay landfills a price, known as a gate or tipping fee, to drop their waste there. The Environmental Research & Education Foundation maintains information on average tipping fees for municipal solid waste landfills. According to its most recent publicly available report, average tipping fees for Illinois in 2017 measured to $50.10 per ton, but it varies based on location. A portion of that money routinely goes to the host county.

Peter Stefan is the finance director for DeKalb County. Stefan said trash that makes it to DeKalb’s landfill indirectly pays for infrastructure like paying back the cost of the new county jail and its operations. Host fees also help fund a radio communication system for the county sheriff.

“On top of that, the agreement also calls for a flat $25,000 payment anytime that the Health Department has one of those household hazardous waste collection days. So [the landfill operators] pick up a good portion of the cost there as well,” he said. DeKalb County’s landfill recently expanded to extend its life.

“In August of 2014, is when the expansion at the landfill open for business — for deposits, let’s put it that way. And so since then, we have collected, it appears to be, over $11 million,” he said.

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