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Environment & Climate Change

Michiganders send most trash to landfills since before recession

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Lester Graham
/
Michigan Radio
Recyclable materials at the Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority.
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Michigan residents are sending more trash to the state’s landfills than they have since before the Great Recession.

Last year Michigan homes and businesses sent more than 43 million cubic yards of trash to the landfills. The last time the state came close to that amount was in 2006, just before the economy crashed.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy annually compiles the numbers. In 2019 more than 43 million cubic yards of trash from Michigan homes and businesses went into Michigan landfills. That's an 8.5 percent increase from 2018. The last time it came close to 43 million cubic yards was in 2006 at 42,467,777 cubic yards.

The agency doesn't know why there was a substantial jump last year. 

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Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Sorting mixed recyclables at the Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority.

“Generally, if the economy increases or the population increases, you’re going to see more solid waste disposal. However, that’s not something that we track," said Jill Greenberg, spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Greenberg notes that of the recyclables set at the curb, around 15% is actually is recycled. That's because so much material put in the recycling bin is contaminated. The State of Michigan is operating a program to get more trash recycled properly and get more companies to use that recycled material in this state.

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