Michigan is one step closer to updating its solid waste and materials management laws that will be tailored to securing more recycling in the state. The House Natural Resources committee met June 2 and June 9 and are continuing testimonial hearings for major revisions proposed to Michigan’s waste and recycling statutes (House Bills 5812-5817). These bills were introduced by a team of bipartisan lawmakers including Chairman Gary Howell, R-North Branch, and Vice Chairman William Sowerby, D-Fraser.
Howell noted during the June 2 Zoom meeting that these five bills will improve the planning process for citing landfills and increase the availability of recycling. What the state has now is regulated toward just landfills, Howell said, and those 70 landfills in Michigan were established through that existing planning process.
“The good news here for all of us is that the heavy lifting has been done on these bills … It’s pretty amazing that they’ve been able to get this many stakeholders to debate and discuss such a complex issue and (come) to a pretty good consensus as to what is practically feasible and what would benefit the environment,” Howell said. “So I’m really pleased to be the beneficiary of all their hard work and I’m really pleased it’s a bipartisan effort.”
Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition President Horst Schmidt said that the new legislation is important because it goes from a “prescriptive model” to a model that allows governments and companies more leeway but also requires them to take on more responsibility for their actions. “… The industry is trying to shove the blame off on someone else but they don’t have to take the responsibility for what they’re creating,” Schmidt said.
Recycling is an issue especially in rural neighborhoods, Schmidt said. Copper Country Recycling Initiative has come in and conducted a survey which showed that a majority of people from Houghton County, outside the Houghton/Hancock city area, are willing to support some form of recycling. With this new proposed legislation, Schmidt is hoping that this will be a push for the Houghton County Commission to get a contract with a company to set up an effective recycling facility, he said.