Michigan legislators have introduced two bills (HB5558, HB5559) that would increase tipping fees to place trash in landfills. If passed, the current fee of seven cents per cubic yard will rise to $7.50 per ton. The increased fees are estimated to raise $145 million, according to Gongwer News Service. This could not come at a worse time for economically struggling Michigan households. Any increase in tipping fees would of course be passed on to consumers and businesses in the state already in the worst economy in Michigan since the Great Depression. The money raised by fee increases would go to local governments for recycling programs.
Democratic lawmakers in the House (no Republicans supported the legislation) argue that Michigan households and businesses should take the economic hit to help keep Canadian trash out of the state. There is no indication, however, that inflicting additional economic hardship on our residents will prevent Canadian trash from crossing the border into Michigan. It would most likely require a considerably higher fee than $7.50 a ton to make it uneconomical for Canadian trash haulers to use Michigan landfills. In fact, waste has historically crossed Michigan borders in both directions between Canada and surrounding states. Michigan is a net importer of solid waste from Canada while at the same time a net exporter of hazardous waste to Canada.
Contrary to rhetoric often heard, Michigan has no shortage of landfill space. Many local communities welcome local landfills in their area due to the jobs they bring as well as tax revenue generated from the facilities.
Many local governments in the state are complaining they have insufficient revenues to provide basic services such as police, fire, and maintaining roads. Receiving additional money for recycling would seem to be low on the priority list for most local government managers.
This suggests any such tax should be recycled to the trash bin.