Michigan Landfill Waste Down 6 Percent

A report released Jan. 31 by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality shows that the overall amount of waste disposed of in the state’s landfills decreased over 6 percent in Fiscal Year 2007; however, imported trash continues to account for 29 percent of the total amount.

The Report of Solid Waste Landfilled in Michigan documents 58,204,510 cubic yards of solid waste disposed of in Michigan landfills in FY 2007, with the waste generated by Michigan citizens decreasing by about 4 percent, and waste imported from other states and Canada decreasing by about 10 percent.

The largest source of waste imports into Michigan continues to be from Canada, equaling about 19 percent of all waste disposed of in Michigan landfills for a total amount of 10,982,984 cubic yards.

Michigan does not currently require comprehensive reporting of the amounts of waste generated, only the amounts of waste disposed of in landfills, making it difficult to determine the reason for the overall decline in landfill disposals in FY 2007. The decreases in both in-state and imported waste disposal are likely due to various factors, including current economic conditions and transportation costs, potential changes in recycling rates, landfills reducing disposal amounts, improved data collection and reporting by landfills, changes in landfill disposal contracts, and Ontario’s commitment to phase out its exports of municipally-managed solid waste to Michigan.

“The data suggests that we are disposing of less waste, but it does not tell us why that is occurring,” said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. “What is clear is that imported waste continues to make up a significant percentage of our overall waste stream, and that must change.”

Based on the capacity used during FY 2007, the reduction of waste disposed, and additional permitted landfill capacity, it is estimated that Michigan landfills have approximately 22 years of remaining disposal capacity.

The DEQ released a stakeholder-driven update to Michigan's Solid Waste Policy in 2007 that provides a framework to guide state management of solid wastes. Some of the goals outlined in the policy include stronger reporting requirements to better understand where waste is generated and where it goes, finding uses for 50 percent of the municipal solid waste by 2015 and ensuring that all citizens have convenient access to residential recycling programs by 2012.

Copies of the report are available at http://www.michigan.gov/deq (click on “Waste,” “Solid Waste,” and under the “Information” tab, click on “Annual Reports of Solid Waste Landfilled”).


Waste Origin Waste Volume (cubic yards)

FY 2006 FY 2007
Canada 12,084,907 10,982,984
Connecticut 226,961 40,536
Florida 20,440 11,820
Illinois 1,588,424 817,665
Indiana 2,196,909 1,810,564
Louisiana 24 0
Maine 595 720
Maryland 47,250 37,540
Massachusetts 14,745 38,190
Michigan 42,852,023 41,049,672
New Hampshire 47,720 2,180
New Jersey 1,074,429 1,671,971
New York 151,071 187,858