A recent letter between the State of Michigan and the Ontario Minister of the Environment indicates that the province may face a waste export ban as early as October 1, 2004.
On August 23, 2004, the Ontario Waste Management Association announced that it obtained a copy of a letter from the State of Michigan to the Ontario environment ministry indicating that Ontario must have a State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit to continue exporting waste for landfill disposal after the October 1 deadline.
The letter, dated July 15, 2004, confirms that Michigan will implement and enforce Michigan Bill No. 5234 that lists recyclable materials that are banned from landfill disposal in the state. The bill requires exporting jurisdictions to apply for and obtain a permit to confirm that the jurisdiction has equivalent regulatory requirements to Michigan for recycling.
According to the OWMA, enforcement may take the form of DEQ officers at Michigan landfills rejecting waste loads from any jurisdiction not on the permit lists. There is also expected to be challenges in store for industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) waste haulers, as Ontario municipalities traditionally do not make applications for permits to include IC&I waste.
A court ruling against the Michigan bill has been requested on the basis that it contravenes the free movement of materials under inter-state commerce and North American Free Trade Agreement laws, but a ruling is not expected until mid-September – meanwhile, the deadline for DEQ permit application is September 1, 2004.
Ontario relies on Michigan landfills for the disposal of approximately three million tonnes of solid waste annually, with two thirds of that amount coming from IC&I sources.
For further information, contact Rob Cook at the OWMA at 905-791-9500 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For background information about this issue, see the “Up Front” section of the April/May 2004 edition of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine.