C & A Carbone, Inc. v. Clarkstown, 511 U.S. 383 (1994)

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certiorari to the appellate division, supreme court of new york, second judicial department

No. 92-1402. Argued December 7, 1993—Decided May 16, 1994

Respondent town agreed to allow a private contractor to construct within town limits a solid waste transfer station to separate recyclable from nonrecyclable items and to operate the facility for five years, at which time the town would buy it for one dollar. To finance the transfer station's cost, the town guaranteed a minimum waste flow to the facility, for which the contractor could charge the hauler a tipping fee which exceeded the disposal cost of unsorted solid waste on the private market. In order to meet the waste flow guarantee, the town adopted a flow control ordinance, requiring all nonhazardous solid waste within the town to be deposited at the transfer station. While recyclers like petitioners (collectively Carbone) may receive solid waste at their own sorting facilities, the ordinance requires them to bring nonrecyclable residue to the transfer station, thus forbidding them to ship such waste themselves and requiring them to pay the tipping fee on trash that has already been sorted. After discovering that Carbone was shipping nonrecyclable waste to out-of-state destinations, the town filed suit in state court, seeking an injunction requiring that this residue be shipped to the transfer station. The court granted summary judgment to the town, finding the ordinance constitutional, and the Appellate Division affirmed.

Held: The flow control ordinance violates the Commerce Clause.

Pp. 389-395. (a) The ordinance regulates interstate commerce. While its immediate effect is to direct local transport of solid waste to a designated site within the local jurisdiction, its economic effects are interstate in reach. By requiring Carbone to send the nonrecyclable portion of waste it receives from out of State to the transfer station at an additional cost, the ordinance drives up the cost for out-of-state interests to dispose of their solid waste. It also deprives out-of-state businesses of access to the local market, by preventing everyone except the favored local operator from performing the initial processing step. P. 389. (b) The ordinance discriminates against interstate commerce, and thus is invalid. See Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U. S. 617, 624. Although the ordinance erects no barrier to the import or export of any


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