DETROIT — The Detroit City Council has approved a proposal to change its sewage incineration, a move that could lead to decreased costs and reduced emissions, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The proposition would save the city $5 million annually, according to The Detroit News. The city’s own incinerator costs $52 million per year to operate and would require $125 million in upgrades to bring it up to federal standards.

In 2001, the city entered into a contract with a company to build a new incinerator, but the company had financial trouble, according to The News.

The city plans to shut down its incinerator once a new plant is built. Current employees would be transferred.

The Winter 2001 edition of Michigan Privatization Report suggested that the city should get out of the waste business altogether. In his article "Detroit Could Collect Savings from Privatized Garbage Pickup," adjunct scholar Steve Thomas pointed out that municipalities across the nation have contracted for private refuse collection and disposal. He cited different reports showing savings from contracting for garbage collection running between 29 percent and a remarkable 50 percent in one example from Canada. The entire article can be read at www.mackinac.org/3155.

References: The Detroit News, "City considers private sludge burning deal," Sept. 18, 2007; Detroit Free Press, "Sludge disposal plan gets council blessing," Nov. 21, 2007