System Failure: Westland Recycling Program Near End of the Road?


Recycling in Westland could be disrupted as early as next week. Less than a decade after it began, efforts to continue recycling seem hopeless at City Hall as the word is spreading about a significant change in costs to send materials for recycling. The first sign of trouble was discussed by Mayor Wild at the October 15th Council Meeting.

“Theres something that’s coming down the pipe that we should all be thinking about and working together,” Wild said about the recycling program. “We recycle over a million pounds a year.” He continued to discuss the problems that will be caused by an evolving recycling market and added that “it would be some time before it trickles down to Westland.” 

Unfortunately, that time has come for the City of Westland.

Earlier this week at the Council Coffee Hour, Westland City Council President James Godbout explained that “the old cost to send out for recycling was $18 and some change per ton, now they want $80 per ton.” He added that “sending waste to the landfill costs about $28 per ton.”

The new price, which is expected to take effect in February, could mean that all materials put into the blue recycle bins could end up in the landfill. City Council is expected to have a study session soon to look at other alternatives, if any. No matter what happens, Westland taxpayers are still on the hook for millions spent on the new bins and garbage trucks.

Michigan’s extremely low fees incentivize other states to send their trash here. Each year the landfills get taller and taller.

“Michigan has made its regulations as landfill-friendly and trash-friendly as any state in the country,” said Mike Garfield, executive director of The Ecology Center, an Ann Arbor-based environmental nonprofit.  This quote is from an article in the Detroit Free Press, which you can find here.

The amount of Canadian solid waste imported to Michigan jumped 19% from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017, to nearly 10.6 million cubic yards, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s latest annual solid waste report. That’s enough trash to fill 881,000, three-axle dump trucks. Those dump trucks, lined up bumper-to-bumper, would stretch from Florida’s Atlantic Coast to California’s Pacific Coast and back to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas.

We at The Westland Gazette hope there is a way to maintain recycling, for the sake of our planet, but we see a very tough time ahead if we want to recycle in the City of Westland.

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