Michigan talks trash on Canadian contract

| 2/7/2006

An average of 111 truckloads of trash leave the Toronto area each day, bound for Michigan landfills.

Although that number is down from 142 loads per day in 2003, Michigan Democrats are adamant about reducing the amount.

In 2000, Toronto sent 1.5 million metric tons, or 1.65 million short tons, to Michigan. That was, in part, due to Toronto-area landfills filling up and being retired.

Toronto took action to curb the amount on its own, citing environmental concerns and a cost of $118 in Canadian dollars per metric ton to ship the waste, according to the city of Toronto Web site, www.toronto.ca.

Aggressive recycling efforts have reduced the annual volume to Michigan by 150,000 metric tons (165,350 tons) per year.

Lawmakers in the Great Lake State are working toward more diversions.

House Democratic Leader Dianne Byrum, D-Onondaga, and others have led a charge against out-of-state trash.

“Michigan’s glut of landfill space has turned our beautiful state into a trash magnet,” Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, said in a press release following the December 2005 session.

That legislative session failed to pass laws to ban or curb imported trash as Democrats had hoped. Those bills could come back in future sessions, politicians have promised.

Toronto trash accounts for 19 percent of all waste dumped in Michigan last year, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, with 3.6 million metric tons, or 3.97 tons.

Most North American cities deal with similar issues on varying scales. New York City, for example, moves 20,000 tons of garbage each day by barge and truck to outside landfills.