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Task force looks to reduce solid waste in Michigan

Jul 20, 2016

Members of the public told a state panel they have concerns about landfills in their backyards. The hearing on Wednesday was part of the Department of Environmental Quality’s waste management task force. The task force was created in April of 2015. Its job is to come up with ways to increase recycling and re-use trash in the state.

Steve Sliver is the acting chief of the state Office of Waste Management and Radiological Protection. He says the panel is hoping to create laws to promote sustainability in Michigan.

“We’re hoping this process yields some changes to the law that will promote recycling, sustainability, composting, alternatives to disposal,” he said.

More than 50 residents and government officials attended a meeting for the DEQ’s task force on waste management. While they wanted to see alternatives to landfills, residents were concerned about what those alternatives might be, especially when some were already having problems with nearby composting facilities.

Theresa Johnson lives on a farm in Sears, Michigan, across the street from a composting facility. Johnson says she is worried about the impact the facility has on the air. 

 

“My concerns is the air, it makes my grandkids very sick,” Johnson said. “And also the particles we’re smelling, you know, in our lungs when we walk. Because it goes from his property out, in the dust, onto our land.”

Robert Nix, the Northville Township supervisor, had similar concerns. He asked the panel to change the rules on where new landfills can be located. He says nearby communities often suffer the consequences of decisions made in a different county. 

“The system is fundamentally unfair and skewed so that all the financial resources go to the county in the host community,” Nix said. “Yet there is no – as I said before – nothing that the bordering community can do, and yet it has a detriment.”

Nix said the draft proposal’s requirement that bordering communities be allowed to express concerns does not go far enough.

Public comments are due on August 1. Information on how to comment can be found on the DEQ’s website. The panel will meet again on August 5 to finalize the proposal. The panel hopes to have their proposal finished by late summer or early fall.