Imports on the Rise

THE AMOUNT OF CANADIAN trash imported into Michigan in fiscal year 2005 rose to nearly 11.9 million cubic yards, up about 3 percent from the preceding fiscal year. The data, contained in a report released in February by the state's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), prompted calls for the state to take action to restrict or cut off the flow of Canadian trash.

“It is discouraging to see the amount of waste being brought into Michigan from outside of our borders continue to increase,” said Steven E. Chester, director of DEQ, in a press release announcing the report.

Overall, the amount of out-of-state trash disposed of in Michigan during its fiscal year 2005 rose to 18.5 million cubic yards, up roughly 2 percent from fiscal year 2004. The Michigan fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

Earlier this year, Michigan House Democrats announced a plan to reduce the disposal of Canadian trash in the state's landfills. If approved by both houses of the Michigan Legislature, the measure would place a proposed dramatic hike in the state's landfill surcharge before voters this fall. The proposal would increase the fee from 21 cents per ton of landfilled trash to $7.50 per ton.

Canadian trash became an issue in Michigan in 2003, when Toronto began sending its trash to the Carleton Farms landfill in Sumpter Township, Mich. The shipments immediately became unpopular with Michigan politicians and residents, who voice environmental concerns about the solid waste.

However, solid waste industry officials say that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that the shipments present no health concerns.