Canada trash keeps coming
County fifth most popular for dumping
By Ron Fonger
Genesee County - Local landfills took 41 percent more
Canadian garbage last year than they did in 2002, making
Genesee County the fifth most-popular dumping ground in
It's the second straight disappointing year for those
who worry about preserving local landfill space for the
future. Since 2001, Canadian trash imports are up in Genesee
County from 200,511 cubic yards in 2001 to 1.4 million
cubic yards in 2003.
A report released Monday by the state Department of Environmental
Quality showed the sharp increase and an overall state
increase of 43 percent more Canadian waste last year.
At the Brent Run Landfill in Montrose Township, almost
twice as much garbage from Canada was buried this year
compared to last, according to the state report.
Four of every 10 bags of trash put in the area's biggest
landfill came from Canada in the fiscal year that ended
Matt Neely, area president for Republic Services, which
owns Brent Run, said he expects trash imports to remain
steady this year.
"The major change is that some more landfills have
closed," Neely said. "I think (we will) maintain
an even pace."
The report was another frustrating reminder to politicians
and ordinary people of how difficult it has been to stop
"It's kind of stupid to begin with ... especially
with all this fresh water," said Gerry Natzke of
Davison, who worries about the potential for contamination
of creeks, rivers and streams.
Like others, he was bothered when last year's DEQ report
showed extra garbage coming to Michigan after an Ontario
landfill closed Jan. 1, 2003, and Toronto began sending
all of its trash to a landfill in Wayne County's Sumpter
Canadian waste sent to Michigan went up to 9.4 million
cubic yards in fiscal 2003, from 6.6 million cubic yards
in 2002, the DEQ report said.
In all, Michigan landfills took in 62.6 million cubic
yards of waste in 2003, up from 57.5 million the year
Citizens Disposal in Mundy Township took no Canadian
trash for the third straight year, and the Richfield Landfill
in Richfield Township increased its Canadian garbage imports
by 43 percent, to 119,828 cubic yards.
Bill McDonnaugh, general manager of Great Lakes Waste,
which operates Citizens, said it's not worth taking Canadian
garbage at Citizens but it's still worthwhile for others.
"It's all up to what's happening in Ontario,"
he said of the future. "It's not (going to change)
unless some pressure is put on (Ontario). It's going to
keep coming to Michigan."
Citizens took waste from outside Michigan into its landfill
last year - trucking in shredded automobiles from Connecticut,
Maine, New Hampshire and New York, McDonnaugh said. Out-of-state
garbage accounted for 25 percent of all disposals at Citizens
In Shiawassee County, the Venice Park Recycling &
Disposal Facility reported taking no garbage from Canada
for the third straight year.
The DEQ report riled elected officials who have tried
to block the shipments of Canadian trash.
Genesee County Commissioner Archie Bailey, D-Flushing,
said he may ask the county Board of Commissioners to follow
Wayne County's efforts to use the state's bottle law to
try to keep household trash out of county landfills.
Bailey proposed a tourist boycott of Toronto last year
in response to swelling trash exports, and about 5,000
cards were mailed to tourism officials there, he said.
State Rep. John J. Gleason, D-Flushing, blamed Republican
lawmakers for blocking bills that would require sorting
by Canada before trash crosses into Michigan.
Ontario doesn't have a recycling law like Michigan's,
and Gleason said requiring it to separate bottles and
cans from garbage could make it too expensive to continue
"It's going to be a big campaign issue," Gleason
predicted. "The only thing we can do is pass laws.
The Democrats are trying very hard to do that."