More Waste Landfilled, Clean Energy Obstacles, and a New Statewide Trail

For Friday, Feb. 13, 2015

1 – Michiganders sent more waste to landfills last year.

That’s according to the Department of Environmental Quality’s 19th annual solid waste report for fiscal year 2014.

Residents increased waste sent to landfills by more than 2 million cubic yards, or 5.6 percent.

Officials say the jump can be seen as a sign of the state’s economic resurgence. It also underscores the importance of efforts to increase residential recycling.

Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to double Michigan’s residential recycling rate in the next two years.

Plans include developing new markets for recyclable metals, plastics and wood.

The DEQ also is working with cities and townships to increase access to recycling, measure progress, and provide technical assistance and education.

At this time, Michigan landfills have about 26 years left of remaining disposal capacity.

– Report of Solid Waste Landfilled in Michigan: Oct. 1, 2013-Sept. 30, 2014

 

2 – The Great Lakes state faces obstacles when it comes to getting more of its energy from cleaner sources.

A new report, produced by 5 Lakes Energy and funded by the Mott Foundation, includes 40 recommendations to enable Michigan to accelerate its progress.

The recommendations include reducing energy waste by expanding financing options for energy upgrades.

We also could modernize our electric generation and delivery, such as increasing our 10 percent renewable standard for regulated utilities, due to expire this year.

Another recommendation is to electrify our transportation sector, including incentives to get more electric vehicles on the road.

Credit: Incase

Credit: Incase

 3 – Iron Belle Trail is the newly picked name for Michigan’s planned, statewide hiking and bicycling trail.

The trail is due to stretch from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.

The state Department of Natural Resources recently announced the name, after sifting through almost 9,000 suggestions.

Iron Belle Trail is a work in progress, but portions of the trail already exist, and are open for public recreation.

The Iron Belle Trail will stretch across Michigan and link numerous existing trails to provide hiking and bicycling routes. A map of the plans shows proposed bicycle trails running through Northeast Michigan.

The DNR is seeking private and public funding to secure and develop trail corridors for the cross-state trail. The agency says temporary connectors are in place along much of the trail and will be made permanent as resources become available.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

 

Trash from Canada Going Up, Weadock Plant Shutting Down .. and Trees

1 – More trash went into Michigan landfills last year.

According to the latest solid waste report from the Department of Environmental Quality, state residents are throwing away less trash, with volumes down a half percent in fiscal year 2013 compared to 2012.

Still, overall waste to state landfills increased by 1.4 percent, due to a rise in garbage from other states and Canada.

Michigan landfills took in almost 7.7 million cubic yards of trash from Canada in 2013, and about 34.5 million cubic yards from state residents.

solid waste landfills michigan

Solid waste landfills in the Bay City, Michigan, area. Click for the full map from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

At current rates, Michigan has about 28 years left before its landfills are at capacity.

Bay County residents disposed of about 380,000 cubic yards of trash. Saginaw County threw out about 708,000 cubic yards.

The report covers the 2013 fiscal year, from October 2012 through September 2013. Read the whole thing here.

2Consumers Energy is shutting down some of its coal-burning power plants, including in Bay County.

Consumers has hired an engineering company called AMEC to decommission seven operating units at its three oldest coal-fired generating plants.

The units are located at the Karn-Weadock complex on Saginaw Bay in Hampton Township, the J.R. Whiting site in Monroe County, and the B.C. Cobb site in Muskegon.

The Weadock portion of the Karn-Weadock complex will be decommissioned, according to The Muskegon Chronicle. Consumers officials have told Michigan regulators that it’s not economical to bring those units (7 and 8) into compliance with federal air quality standards.

The units being shut down across the state have been operating for an average of 60 years, and Consumers plans to retire them by April 2016.

Consumers Energy plans to purchase a 540-megawatt, natural-gas power plant in Jackson to partially offset the planned retirements.

3The ground may be frozen, but trees for planting are available.

The Bay County Soil Conservation District is again sponsoring a spring tree sale.

You can order seedlings of spruce, pine and fir in quantities of 50, 100, 500, or 1,000.

Transplant species of spruce, pine, cedar, balsam and fir can be ordered in multiples of five.

Fruit trees such as apple, pear and cherry also are available, along with strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and grape plants.

For more information, you can call the District office at 684-1040. The District also holds another tree sale in the fall.

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Great Lakes Literacy Lessons, and More Microbeads Reported

Mr. Great Lakes, Jeff Kart. As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on The Environment Report, Delta College public radio, Q-90.1 FM. The Report for Sept. 6, 2013:

1- Twenty educators have returned from a science-based Summer Teacher Institute on Lake Huron, according to Michigan State Univeristy Extension.

At the Institute, held in northern Michigan at the University of Michigan Biological Station, teachers worked with researchers studying lake sturgeon, along with coastal wetland ecologists from Central Michigan University’s Institute for Great Lakes Research, and maritime history experts from the federal Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena.

The teacher workshop was designed to advance Great Lakes literacy —- or a better understanding of the lakes and how humans are interconnected with water resources.

Educators from across the Lake Huron basin participated, including teachers from the Saginaw Bay area.

great blue heron lakes

Credit: Rona Proudfoot

The goal of the workshop was to give teachers a chance to learn about place–based education strategies and best practices that can help enhance student learning and involvement in Great Lakes stewardship.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust provided funding for the workshop and project stipends for teachers to implement related projects.

2 – All of the Great Lakes are now home to tiny plastic particles, according to the Associated Press.

Scientists previously discovered the particles in Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie last year.

New work over the summer by Wisconsin researchers uncovered small concentrations in Lakes Michigan and Ontario.

The plastics are believed to be from scrubbing beads in household and beauty products.

The particles are tiny enough to slip through the screens at wastewater treatment plants and be discharged into the lakes, a source of drinking water for millions of people.

Lake Erie seems to hold the highest concentrations of plastics, probably because the particles float downstream from the upper lakes.

The plastic has also been found in Lake Superior sediment.

Research has found that plastic can absorb persistent toxic chemicals. They also can be confused as food and eaten by small fish.

A few companies have pledged to phase out microbeads by 2015.

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Dow Solar Shingles Cost How Much, the Great Lakes Bowl, and Michigan Landfills

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, on Fridays at 9 a.m. on Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

The Feb. 8, 2013, Environment Report:

1 – Solar shingles sound great, sure.

dow powerhouse shingles cost savings energy

A screenshot from the Dow Solar site.

They can save you energy, sure.

But for how much?

The Dow Chemical Co., which manufactures Powerhouse Solar Shingles in Midland, has developed a cost and savings estimator, based on your state, home size and energy savings goal.

For example, you can look at a 2,500-square-foot home in Michigan, based on an energy savings goal of 20 percent.

Asphalt shingles will cost about $9,000. Powerhouse Solar Shingles will cost you about an extra $11,000 for the same home.

But energy savings are estimated to be more than $14,000 over 25 years. The solar shingles also are estimated to increase a home’s value by another $11,000.

The estimator will point you to contacts for more specific information on your home, and authorized dealers, including Cobblestone Homes in Linwood.

2 – The Super Bowl may be over, but the Great Lakes Bowl is Saturday (Feb. 9).

The 2013 Great Lakes Bowl in Ann Arbor will bring together 16 teams from high schools and junior high schools in Michigan and Ohio to compete for a spot in National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

This year, there are 16 teams from 14 schools participating. They include Standish-Sterling Central High School in Standish.

The Saturday event is one of 25 regional competitions being held around the U.S. this month.

Each five-student team will compete through quick-answer buzzer questions and more complex team challenge questions focused on freshwater and saltwater.

Categories include physical oceanography, biology, chemistry, geography, geology, marine policy, social sciences, and technology related to the Great Lakes and oceans.

The Great Lakes Bowl will award cash, trophies, medals and other prizes to top finishers, according to a sponsor, Michigan Sea Grant.

The top team from each regional competition will advance to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals competition, to be held this year in April in Milwaukee.

3 – How much trash did you throw away last year?

In Bay County, the Whitefeather Landfill in Pinconning Township took in more than 401,000 cubic yards of waste, mostly from municipal and commercial sources, and mostly from Bay and Saginaw counties.

The information comes from Michigan’s annual report on solid waste for fiscal year 2012, ending Sept. 30.

In Michigan landfills overall, there was a 3.1 percent decrease in solid waste disposed of in 2012 compared to the previous year.

Waste imported from other states and Canada went down by almost 2 percent. Still, Canada remains as the largest source of waste imports into Michigan, representing 15.3 percent of all waste disposed of in state landfills, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

At current rates, it’s estimated that Michigan landfills will be filled in about 28 years. Whitefeather in Bay County has about 23 years of capacity left.

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Michigan Waterfowl Legacy adds Saginaw Bay, Midland wants a bioreactor, and Climate Change is already here

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

michigan midwest climate change temperatures rising

From Chapter 18 of the National Climate Assessment draft.

Text and info from the Feb. 1, 2013, broadcast:

1- The Michigan Waterfowl Legacy program now includes Saginaw Bay.

Michigan Waterfowl Legacy is a recently launched statewide initiative that seeks to bring hunters and non-hunters together to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan’s waterfowl, wetlands and waterfowl hunting community.

The Legacy is a 10-year, cooperative partnership between various government agencies and non-government conservation organizations — including the Bay City-based Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The Saginaw Bay watershed is the largest in Michigan, draining about 15 percent of the state’s waterways.

Goals of the Legacy program here include increasing the number of citizens in the region who are using and enjoying wetlands, and building on successful partnerships that have resulted in increased wetland and waterfowl habitat.

Plans include the promotion of Saginaw Bay tourism opportunities related to waterfowl and wetlands, and the development of Saginaw Bay-specific Michigan Waterfowl Legacy events, such as waterfowl hunting, birding, and trapping workshops.

Many of the new Saginaw Bay events will occur on waterfowl areas managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and tie into a new DNR campaign called “Explore Michigan’s Wetland Wonders.”

The project has been funded by a $27,500 grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, supported by area foundations.

2 – A bioreactor project is planned for a Midland landfill.

The city of Midland is requesting a construction permit from the state for a research, development, and demonstration project at an existing solid waste landfill.

According to a permit application, on file with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Bay City, the project is designed to study the effect of adding sludge from the wastewater treatment process to solid waste at the landfill.

Adding sludge to the landfill is expected to optimize conditions for the biological decomposition of solid waste.

The landfill is 340 acres, and located on East Ashman Street in Midland.

The project also could increase the life of the landfill, and the amount of electricity generated from existing landfill gas extraction equipment.

A decision from the DEQ is expected by late April.

3 – Climate change is already impacting wildlife in Michigan.

Case studies from across the country show that global warming is altering wildlife habitats, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, covering eight regions of the U.S.

Highlights from the Great Lakes and Midwest include: More heavy rainfall events are increasing runoff of nutrients from agricultural lands, contributing to harmful algal blooms and causing oxygen-depleted dead zones in the lakes.

The report recommends action to reduce the amount of toxic pollution from coal-fired energy, and support for more wind, solar, and geothermal energy projects.

Meanwhile, a recently released draft National Climate Assessment from the federal government concludes that climate change will lead to more frequent and intense Midwest heat waves, while degrading air and water quality and threatening public health.

Intense rainstorms and floods also will become more common, and existing risks to the Great Lakes will be exacerbated.

The National Climate Assessment’s Midwest chapter (pdf) was authored by three University of Michigan researchers.

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36 Against a Weak Ballast Water Permit, Michigan Green Schools & Landfills Filling Up

The Delta College Q-90.1 FM Environment Report, heard Fridays at 9 a.m. as part of the award-winning Friday Edition segment.

The report for Feb. 24, 2012:

More Green Schools 

Schools in Bay County are encouraged to become part of a Michigan Green Schools project.

In 2006, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the “Michigan Green School Act.” The law grants a “Michigan Green School” designation to any public or private school in in the state that meets certain criteria.

To become a Michigan Green School, a school must achieve 10 of 20 possible points for environmental and energy-saving measures in an academic year.

There are currently four designated Green Schools in Bay County:

  • Bangor West Elementary School;
  • Christa McAuliffe Middle School;
  • Lincoln Elementary; and,
  • Pinconning High and Middle Schools.

The Bay County Environmental Affairs and Community Development Department is serving as the clearinghouse for all schools in Bay County under the project. The application deadline for this year is March 1.

Blasting Weak Ballast Standards

Dozens of environmental and conservation groups say a proposed federal ballast water permit to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes is too weak.

Comments were due this week to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a proposed permit to regulate ballast water discharges from commercial vessels.

Conservation groups assert that the permit still leaves the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters vulnerable to the introduction and spread of invasive species—and does not adhere to the Clean Water Act. Invasive species already established in the lakes via ballast water discharge include aebra mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobies.

The groups are asking the EPA to

  • Adopt a zero-discharge standard for invasive species;
  • Adopt the most protective technology standards nationwide;
  • Adopt standards for lakers, or ships that stay within the basin; and,
  • Develop a faster implementation timeline to implement new technology standards.

A coalition of 36 groups teamed up to  submit comments on the proposal. Their comments say the permit, as written,  leaves the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters vulnerable to the further introduction and spread of invasive species, and does not adhere to standards of the Clean Water Act.

The groups submitting the comments include

  • the Alliance for the Great Lakes;
  • Great Lakes United;
  • the National Wildlife Federation;
  • Natural Resources Defense Council; and,
  • the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.

The EPA is due to issue a final permit by Nov. 30.

24 Years Left

Do you need another reason to recycle?

photo michigan landfill report imported trash

Via Michigan landfill report, DEQ

Michigan landfills have about 24 years of disposal capacity left, according to a state report.

The Department of Environmental Quality report (pdf) says the volume of solid waste sent to landfills in the state dropped by about 1 percent in 2011.

Waste disposed of by Michigan residents and businesses increased by about 3 percent. Waste imported from other states and Canada decreased by about 13 percent.

DEQ officials say they expect Canadian waste volumes will continue to decrease during the next year under a commitment from the province of Ontario.

Still, Canada remains the largest source of waste imports into Michigan, accounting for more than 15 percent of all waste disposed of in Michigan landfills.

Next to Canada, the most out-of-state waste into Michigan comes from Ohio and Indiana.

The Great Lakes Are Haunted By Polyester

Trash is still haunting us in the Great Lakes State. And Saturday is the first-annual Halloween Costume Swap Day.

No need to get a card for this one. The Oct. 9 “holiday” is being organized by Green Halloween, KIWI magazine, and Swap.com. There’s an online directory to look for swaps in your community. If you don’t find one, feel free to organize your own costume trade party.
Sierra Club, which is promoting Halloween Swap Day on its blog, says that 25 million kids celebrate Halloween in the U.S. If half of them exchanged costumes, they’d cut landfill waste by more than 6,000 tons.

You can do it on Saturday, or any day, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you re-use a costume rather than throwing one out and buying a new polyester outfit for the kids.

I guess costume swapping isn’t a new idea. I remember letting my brother use my Frankenstein mask the year after I did. And my Dracula cape also was passed on down.

There aren’t any Halloween swaps near me in Michigan, but the elementary school down the road is holding a Halloween costume fundraiser.

There’s another idea: Donate your old costumes to a nonprofit that can sell them to raise funds. And stop over and buy a new (to you) costume for the kids.

— Photo: peasap via Flickr.

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