A package of eight bills meant to update Michigan’s solid waste rules and help raise the state’s recycling rate will head to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for signature.
The bill package, HB 4454-4461, calls for updating the state’s solid waste plan to focus on recycling and reuse strategies as its “primary objective.” As part of that goal, the package calls for changes to landfill permitting requirements, including raising costs for certain permits, and it will require haulers to provide recycling services for single-family residences alongside waste hauling services.
In addition, it requires counties to have an approved materials management plan and offers grants for recycling technology and infrastructure projects. One bill in the package calls for the state to reach an eventual 45% recycling rate. It does not specify a deadline for that goal, but does call for reaching an interim 30% rate goal by 2029. The current state recycling rate is about 19%.
The package allows Michigan to reclassify chemical recycling as a manufacturing process, a controversial aspect of the bill negotiation process.
The changes are meant to refocus the state’s solid waste policy away from disposal and toward recycling, diversion and circular economy strategies, said Kerrin O'Brien, executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition, in a statement. The group spearheaded the effort to pass the bill package.
“Counties will soon be funded and incentivized to plan for needed infrastructure, programs, and services to manage waste more productively through reduction, recycling, composting, and more," he said.
The package, first introduced in 2021, originally failed to gain traction. It passed just hours before the end of Michigan’s lame duck session on Thursday, MLive reported. The Michigan Recycling Coalition says work on some of the package’s efforts has been going on for at least six years.
Andi Tolzdorf, director of the Emmet County Department of Public Works, said the bill package is a culmination of years of discussions over how to modernize Michigan’s recycling laws. "This is a huge step forward for recycling and composting," Tolzdorf said in a statement.
HB 4460 adds new requirements, including reporting metrics, for certain composting facilities. It allows the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to approve certain materials as compostable or deem certain solid wastes as compost materials, among numerous other provisions.
Landfill operators will have to pay higher fees for certain construction permit applications, operating licenses and other permits under HB 4456. Under HB 4457, some landfills will need to meet stricter financial assurance requirements.
Landfill operators offered “tepid” support for the package, MLive reported, but they were against bill language allowing local governments to pass ordinances concerning a landfill’s appearance or operating hours.
The bill package also calls for EGLE to provide grants or loans, or use funding from the state Solid Waste Management Fund, for improving recycling and reuse efforts or access to recycling. HB 4459 calls for EGLE to create a recycling markets program and an innovation program offering grants or loans for acquiring equipment or technology for R&D, recycling market development ideas, education campaigns or other projects. It also calls for local governments to work together on projects and partner with the private sector.
The package contains a bill reclassifying chemical recycling as manufacturing instead of solid waste operations. The American Chemistry Council has helped pass such laws in more than 20 states, including recently in Mississippi and West Virginia. Some Democrats, as well as numerous environmental groups, opposed the chemical recycling language during final passage, MLive reported.
Michigan Chemistry Council Executive Director John Dulmes said in an emailed statement that the council was “thrilled” the legislation passed, saying the chemical recycling bill and the others in the package “incorporated constructive feedback from EGLE and other parties.”