Officials Call For Trash Laws

    LANSING — State officials weren’t too pleased to learn a few weeks ago that imports of solid waste into Michigan grew last year.

    Since that news hit the fan, there has been plenty of trash talk in Lansing.

    A February report released by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality showed that state landfills accepted 62.6 million cubic yards of waste in 2003, up from the 57.5 million cubic yards recorded in 2002, and a quarter of that total was imported trash.

    In fact, the report revealed that solid waste from Canada and 12 other states last year increased by about 35 percent to nearly 15.5 million cubic yards.

    Canada alone accounted for 9.4 million cubic yards coming into the state, while Illinois, Indiana and Ohio each sent more than 1 million cubic yards to landfills in Michigan. Trash came from as far away as Maine and over a half-million cubic yards came from Wisconsin.

    “The increase in the out-of-state solid waste disposed of in Michigan highlights the need for the legislature to close the deal on solid waste legislation pending before them,” said DEQ Director Steven Chester.

    “We cannot continue to allow the importation of large quantities of solid waste into our state that may not meet Michigan’s high health and safety standards,” added Chester.

    Chester said state lawmakers have been working on regulating the importation of solid waste into Michigan for the better part of a decade now. Legislative ideas have ranged from banning certain items from being imported to adding a surcharge to out-of-state trash.

    “In the wake of this report, it is now more imperative than ever that the Legislature deliver to my desk the package of bills to curb the flow of out-of-state and foreign trash in Michigan,” said Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

    “I think we can all agree that Michigan’s quality of life is eroded a little bit more with every truckload of trash that is brought into our state. It is time for the Legislature to move on the trash legislation,” said the governor.

    The DEQ report showed that nine states sent trash to Michigan in 2002, while a dozen did last year. The amount of garbage that came from Canada grew by 2.8 million cubic yards in 2003 from 2002.

    In September, the DEQ released a waste inspection report. Those findings showed that the total of prohibited waste coming into the state was small, but shipments from Ontario last summer contained more waste than deliveries from the states.

    More cardboard made its way into landfills than in previous years, as did more beverage containers from Canada. Cardboard and beverage cans are considered recyclable materials in the states.

    The DEQ and the Wayne County Department of Environment did weekly inspections at eight municipal landfills from mid-March through mid-June last year to ensure unacceptable waste wasn’t being deposited. The agencies inspected 5,000 loads and more than 264,000 cubic yards of waste.

    “These inspections provide us with an excellent snapshot of what’s going into our landfills. The discovery of the increased amount of yard waste and recyclables in loads coming from Ontario stresses the importance of Michigan’s ability to require that other states and countries adhere to the same standards for solid waste in Michigan,” said Chester.

    The DEQ report also revealed that solid waste deposited by state residents rose by two percent over the past year to 47.1 million cubic yards in 2003 from 46 million cubic yards in 2002.

    The state received $71.2 million in revenue from the solid waste program during the last fiscal year.    

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