The landfills in Michigan not only hold solid waste produced from Michigan residents, but also from other states and Canada. The first chart below shows how much solid waste has been disposed of in Michigan landfills between 2008 and 2019, total. Between 2009 and 2012 the amount of waste being disposed decreased from about 49 million cubic yards in 2009 to about 44 million cubic yards in 2012. From 2013 to 2018 though the amount of waste being disposed continuously increased. In 2013 there was about 44.5 million yards of cubic waste disposed of into Michigan landfills and by 2018 that number was about 52.5 million cubic yards.
When examining the three different sources that dispose of solid waste into Michigan landfills the data shows that waste from Canada had the largest decrease between 2009 and 2012, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. In 2009 9 million cubic yards were disposed of into Michigan landfills and 2012 that number was 6.5 cubic yards. Between 2013 and 2018 though those numbers increased from about 7.5 million cubic yards to 9.5 cubic yards. For the amount of solid waste disposed of in Michigan from instate sources that number rose from about 35 million cubic yards in 2009 to about 40 million cubic yards. For solid waste disposal from other states that amount disposed of never increased above 2.9 million cubic yards between 2009 and 2018.
Overall, the amount of waste generated in Michigan continues to increase while import rates are decreasing, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
The chart below shows the total waste disposed in Michigan landfills from each county in Southeastern Michigan. This chart does not necessarily reflect how much waste is disposed in each county, but rather how much waste comes from each county. Wayne County had the highest amount of waste disposal at more than 11 million cubic yards in 2018; this amount was more than twice the amount of any other county in the region. Oakland County had the second highest amount of waste disposed in 2018 at about 4.3 million cubic yards. Livingston County had the lowest amount of waste disposed at about 380,000 cubic yards.
Below is a list of the landfills in Southeastern Michigan and the amount and type of waste disposed in them in 2018. Municipal and Commercial Waste (MCW) was the most common type of waste disposed of in Southeastern Michigan landfills, followed by Industrial Waste (IW).
In Southeastern Michigan there are 13 different landfills, two of which only accept Industrial Waste. The two landfills that only accept Industrial Waste are Detroit Edison Ash Disposal in St. Clair County and the DTE Monroe Power Plant in Monroe County.
Pine Tree Acres, which is a landfill operated by Waste Management in Lenox Township (Macomb County) had the largest amount of waste disposed there in 2018 at nearly 5.1 million cubic yards. Carleton Farms Landfill in Sumpter Township (Wayne County) had the second largest amount of waste disposed there at about 4 million cubic yards.
The City of Livonia accepted the least amount of waste in 2018. According to the Department of Environmental Quality the City of Livonia landfill received 2,700 cubic yards of Municipal and Commercial Waste and 1.8 yards of Industrial Waste.
Overall this post was intended to highlight where waste in Michigan, and the region comes from, what regional counties are producing the most amount of solid waste and how the production of waste in the state continues to rise. Not only does this post shed light on the production of solid waste but it should also be a conversation starter for the need of increased recycling rates. According to the Environmental Protection Agency the recycling rate in Michigan is 15 percent; the national average is 35 percent. While bottle returns in Michigan are at about a 90 percent redemption rate, according to a 2018 Bridge Magazine article, other recyclable items are not returned at nearly such a high rate. There needs to be a mindset change in the State of Michigan, and digging deeper into the data could help facilitate successful public information campaigns.
Unfortunately, data on recycling is not nearly as detailed as the information the state produces on solid waste. For example, information on what communities offer curbside recycling is not readily available, and the last measurement report on recycling in the state was published in 2016, with data from 2014.
There needs to be more information on recycling in Michigan, and the amount of solid waste disposed of in Michigan’s landfills needs to be reduced. Although waste from other states and countries is imported to Michigan landfills, an action that should also be halted, it is the rate at which solid waste in Michigan is being produced and disposed of that is increasing the greatest problem. We need to see a substantial reduction in solid waste disposal, and a parallel increase increase in recycling.