Michigan considers a statewide recycling program
With a very low state dumping fee ($.21 per ton), Michigan landfills are favored by some neighboring states as a place to dispose of their garbage.
In last November’s statewide election in Michigan, the Democrats regained control of the State House (58–52), but failed to take away control of Senate from the Republicans (17–21).
In the previous Congressional session, the Republican majority in the State House blocked various initiatives put forward by Democratic legislators at the committee level. Since then, the House has passed the moratorium on new landfills (HB4047) and increased the tipping to $7.50 (HB4221). Both bills are now before the Senate.
The House is currently discussing a statewide recycling program, Bill HB4222. Governor Jennifer Granholm (D), is working with all legislators to bring reform.
Q. When will the House be bringing forward legislation to reinstate the moratorium on the creation of new landfills and expansion of existing landfills, the increase in the state tipping fee for trash and the creation of a statewide recycling program, likely funded by revenue from the increased tipping fee?
Answer: I cannot address the House’s timetable for the legislation, as that is at the prerogative of legislative leaders. However, I do support increasing tipping fees and extending the moratorium on landfills. I have also called for a statewide recycling program funded by the tipping fee increase and have consistently supported expanding Michigan’s landmark bottle deposit bill to include other drink containers.
Q. Are there any specific details regarding each aspect of the three pieces of legislation that you can provide and why is this legislation so critical to the state?
Answer: The moratorium is fairly simple – it would ban the creation of new landfills in our state. These changes are critical to Michigan because in the last 10 years, the amount of solid waste imported into our state from Canada has increased more than 12 percent. Solid waste from Canada and other states now comprises almost 30 percent of all waste disposed of in our landfills, according to state solid waste management reports. Our low tipping fees and high number of landfills make Michigan an attractive place for out-of-state and foreign trash haulers to do business. This is not the type of business we want for our state, however.
Q. The Republicans now control the State Senate. Do you see the Senate majority blocking these pieces of legislation? If so, can they do so indefinitely? If they insist upon blocking these bills, is there a way to break the deadlock?
Answer: I cannot predict what the Senate will do, but I have hope that we will have a cooperative relationship with the Senate and that we will work in a bipartisan fashion to resolve issues of importance to the people of Michigan.
Q. Where does the situation stand regarding trash exports from Ontario?
Answer: An agreement worked out by United States Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) will reduce the trash exports by 37 percent by 2010.
However, I am confident Democratic control of both the House and Senate will help us achieve even more meaningful reform and allow us to restrict imports from other countries. Currently, 18.6 percent of all solid waste in a Michigan landfill is from Canada.
Q. Where does the situation stand regarding the exporting of trash from other states into Michigan?
Answer: Currently, nearly 30 percent of all solid waste disposed of in Michigan is from out of state. Indiana, Illinois and Ohio are the largest exporters of trash to Michigan.