New state waste legislation could impact landfill here

Published 7:22 am Thursday, March 4, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- With a majority of the Southeast Berrien County Landfill's trash coming from Indiana, the Michigan Senate's recent decision to enforce tougher garbage standards for out-of-state waste could have an impact on business.
The new legislation was announced on Tuesday and landfill officials are still monitoring the possible implications of the new garbage regulations.
Gruchot said the bills have passed in the State Senate, but are still awaiting a signature from the governor to become official.
Southeast Berrien County Landfill general manager Dave Jones, who is also still looking into the possible impact of these bills, said there is potential concern the landfill may lose some of its Indiana customers.
The new legislation sets out to require all Canadian and out-of-state waste to meet the same stringent standards Michigan has for its own waste.
Michigan landfills would be required to refuse any out-of-state waste that does not meet those standards.
The Southeast Berrien County Landfill is owned by five municipalities including the the City of Niles, the City of Buchanan, and Niles, Bertrand and Buchanan Townships. Niles Mayor Michael McCauslin said he expects the effect on the landfill to be minimal, but said the city is in support of the new restrictions.
He said when the city first became involved with the landfill, its primary focus was to serve the five local municipalities.
McCauslin thinks it is unfortunate the landfill has now shifted away from that local focus and now gets a majority of their business from Indiana.
Part of the tougher standards would include a ban on both beverage containers and whole tires from the landfills. This move is meant to encourage recycling and cut down on the reliance of landfills, officials explained.
Jones pointed out the Southeast Berrien County Landfill offers one of the most successful voluntary recycling centers in the area, with a specific collection area for the reception of tires.
He also mentioned that while Indiana does not have the bottle deposit law like Michigan, they are also very active with recycling centers.
The new legislation would also require the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to perform at least four inspections per year for each landfill.
He said the Southeast Berrien County Landfill underwent more than a dozen state inspections last year, pointing out inspections will be nothing new for the landfill.
Jones said it was important to understand landfill officials will not know exactly what new regulations will become law until the legislation is enacted.