DEQ Task Force Re-Thinking Trash Rules

It’s the first big reconsideration of Michigan’s solid waste policies in 20 years.

Jake Neher/WDET

Plans are getting underway to send less trash to landfills in Michigan and to find more ways to re-use it. A state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) task force plans a Wednesday hearing in Lansing to gather ideas from the public.

The Solid Waste and Sustainability Advisory Panel released its draft recommendations last month. The group will use the public comments to fine tune its proposals before sharing with the DEQ director.

People can also submit comments online.

The DEQ’s Rhonda Oyer says it’s the first big re-thinking of Michigan’s solid waste policies in 20 years.

“Rather than looking at sort of a disposal system where the material is just thrown away, put in a landfill, what is the highest and best use of that material where we look at re-utilizing that material rather than just disposing of it.”

Sean Hammond of the Michigan Environmental Council serves on the task force.  

He says the idea is that a lot of what is currently tossed out as trash be converted to a new use, composted, or re-cycled into energy or new products.  

“So it’s not waste anymore, but a lot of it has value,” he says. “Your yard waste has value as compost or in anaerobic digestion or your recycling has value in terms of making new products.”

Hammond says that will require re-thinking how trash is collected and re-distributed afterward. Another task force named by Gov. Rick Snyder s focused specifically on recycling.