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Waste increase noted in landfills

Waste Management picks up trash and recycling. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently released its 23rd annual solid waste report, which shows a 3.6 percent increase in material that’s disposed of in Michigan landfills.

Waste disposed of by Michigan residents and businesses increased by almost 5 percent, and waste imported from other states and Canada decreased by about 3 percent from the previous year, the report states.

According to the report, Canadian waste imports equal about 18.6 percent of all waste dumped in Michigan landfills. Waste reported from other states and Canada totaled about 23.9 percent of all solid waste disposed in Michigan landfills.

However, according to the report, there was nearly 179,400 cubic yards of solid waste disposed of in Marquette County’s landfill, a decrease from the roughly 188,550 cubic yards noted the previous year.

Brad Austin, director of the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority, said in an email that the authority receives about 60,000 tons of waste per year.

“We did not see any significant uptick in tonnage this past year,” he said. “Typically, the residential waste volume received remains about the same. Any additional tons are normally the result of construction projects happening within the county.”

The Marquette County Landfill has about a 52-year life expectancy, Austin said.

Currently, residents of the landfill’s constituent municipalities participate in dual-stream recycling, in which pickup schedules alter each week between fiber materials, such as paper, and rigids, like plastics and metals. A single-stream model would allow all types of recyclable material to be picked up every week.

Austin said the authority has a goal to expand the life-expectancy of the landfill and hopes to change over to single-stream recycling system.

“The authority is making concerted efforts to extend the life of our county landfill. In order to do this, it is imperative that we provide easy, convenient and accessible recycling/recovery type programs to the residents of Marquette County,” Austin said. “The authority is extremely excited about the proposed project regarding the county-wide change over from residential dual-stream to single-stream recycling.”

Austin said an updated status of the project will be provided soon.

Currently, only around 40 percent of Marquette County residents recycle, although there are several programs facilitated in the county to cut back on waste disposal.

“In addition to processing and marketing recyclable materials, the authority (in partnership with our municipalities), facilitates several programs within the county in order to reduce waste,” Austin said. “These include the household hazardous waste program (HHW), scrap tire program, battery recycling program, CFL bulb recycling program, scrap metal program and refrigerant recovery program. Soon the authority will implement a residential e-waste recycling program.”

It is estimated that Michigan non-captive landfills have about 27 years of remaining disposal capacity left, the DEQ report states.

“This estimate does not take into consideration any projected increase or decrease in waste disposal rates, waste diversion programs, or any county-imposed restrictions such as volume limitations, any special conditions, or the waste import/export authorizations of each county,” the report reads.

All 66 Michigan landfills are required to submit information on disposal to the DEQ. The department compiles this information into an annual report for the Legislature.

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