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November 2003

Additional Research on Proposed Waste Bills Called For in Michigan

Lansing, MI— The Michigan Waste Industries Association (MWIA) expressed disappointment over a package of waste related bills currently moving through a state senate committee, saying the politically-motivated bills, if enacted, would do little to further Michigan’s plans for handling waste in the future and would hurt Michigan communities.

“This package of bills is fraught with a number of problems,” said MWIA President Dan Batts. “Not only is it unconstitutional and unlikely to withstand legal challenges, but enactment will result in higher trash bills for Michigan citizens, diminish competition for waste disposal and exacerbate an already challenging illegal dumping problem.”

The bills are aimed at addressing recent controversy over the importation of trash from neighboring states and Ontario. Many, including the MWIA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in a recently released report, have indicated that imported waste does not pose concerns for long-term landfill capacity or environmental or public health protections. Imported waste, which makes up less than 20 percent of all waste disposed in Michigan landfills, is comprised of much the same waste materials that Michigan generated waste contains; regulations on wastes are generally consistent across the Great Lakes states and in Ontario.

The MWIA has consistently cautioned lawmakers on enacting laws that contradict constitutional provisions. Waste is protected as an item of commerce, and is transported across jurisdictions under free trade agreements. Attempts by other states to pass laws similar to those under consideration by the Michigan Legislature have been rejected by the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Proposed legislation would make it illegal for landfills to accept a long list of items currently allowed in safe levels in landfills, but provides no alternative disposal facilities for residents or communities.

Now when a homeowner wants or needs to get rid of a scrap tire, for example, waste haulers can relieve the homeowner of the item and dispose of it in the landfill. Under the proposed legislation, residents of many Michigan communities would have to call a community resource center or the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to find out where an appropriate disposal site is located, and then take the item themselves to a disposal facility.

The lack of alternative disposal sites also poses a problem for small “mom and pop” waste haulers who dispose of their loads at regulated landfills.

“Landfill operators will not want to shoulder the liability or stiff fines associated with accepting trash loads that might contain a beverage bottle or two. We’ll simply have no choice than to quit doing business with these smaller waste haulers. Unfortunately, that will put them out of business and that leads to fewer choices for consumers.”


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