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FAQ: Landfills and Solid Waste

Heavy equipment spreading trash on a landfill
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

FAQ: Landfills and Solid Waste

EGLE is focused on reducing the impacts of material choices on our natural resources, the environment, and climate by establishing convenient, inclusive access to recycling, organics management, waste reduction opportunities, and adequate disposal options.

  • Check out our How Landfills Work Story Map that provides details on how they are designed, operated and maintained; what happens every day at a landfill; and the role EGLE has in permitting, licensing, and overseeing landfills so they're operated in a way that protects human health and our environment. You can download and print our cross section of a landfill cell poster, print the story map details as a handout, and more.

  • Please submit your air quality related concerns to EGLE using the Air Quality Complaint Form.

  • In 2014, Michigan’s solid waste law was amended to establish specific “beneficial use by-products.” When beneficial use by-products are managed to meet one or more of the five beneficial use option conditions, the materials are no longer considered a solid waste that has to be disposed in a solid waste landfill. The materials that may be used as beneficial use by-products include: cement kiln dust or lime kiln dust; coal or wood burning bottom ash; coal or wood burning ash recovered from air pollution control equipment or non-combusted residues from their combustion; dewatered concrete grinding sludge; flue gas desulfurization material; foundry sand; lime softening residuals; mixed wood ash; pulp and paper mill ash; pulp and paper mill material; and soils washed or removed from sugar beets; spent media from sandblasting; and stamp sands. The five use options for beneficial use by-products include:

    1. Use as an aggregate, road material, or building material if it will be bonded or encapsulated by cement, limes, or asphalt.
    2. Use as construction fill, road base, soil stabilizer, or road shoulder material.
    3. Use as a fertilizer, soil conditioner under Part 85, or a liming material under 1955 PA 162.
    4. Use as a stabilizer, neutralizer, or for the treatment of solid waste, wastewater, or hazardous substances; or a landfill construction material.
    5. Use as a component of a manufactured soil.

    See the Beneficial Use Website and Beneficial Use FAQs to learn more.

  • See our Managing Storm Debris guidance for details on what you can and cannot do with debris from a storm.

  • Deconstruction is a form of recycling where construction and building materials are disassembled from old buildings that would have otherwise been strictly demolished and landfilled. The material that are salvaged during deconstruction can be reused or recycled for other purposes.  Check out our video highlighting deconstruction and its value, An Alternative to Waste - A Deconstruction Story.

  • See our Sustainable Materials Management Hierarchy for a simple roadmap to making the most sustainable choices about the materials you buy and use.  The hierarchy promotes choices that are the least harmful to our environment and the best for mitigating climate change.  The hierarchy advocates reuse and recycling instead of disposal because it takes less energy to make new products from recycled materials than it does when using virgin materials. This results in less carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel fired power plants, which is the largest contributor to climate change, and preserves virgin resources in our environment for future generations.

  • Wastes specifically prohibited under the law from being disposed in Michigan’s solid waste landfills, includes Michigan deposit containers, yard waste, used oil, bulk liquids, whole tires, empty drums, hazardous waste, lead acid batteries, and low-level radioactive waste. Wastes with special handling requirements or approvals required to be disposed in a solid waste landfill include asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste, septage, and technically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials. In some cases, there are exceptions to the prohibition. For example, although yard waste is prohibited from being disposed in a landfill, if the waste is an invasive species, an exception is granted under the law.  To learn more about prohibited and special waste requirements, see the Landfill Prohibited Materials and Special Wastes and Invasive Species Websites.

  • View our map of licensed solid waste facilities to see where they are located in Michigan.

  • Call your local law enforcement office. Local law officers can ticket for littering under your local ordinance or, if that doesn't exist, under Michigan's Part 89, Littering, of the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA). Part 89 of the NREPA provides fines for people who litter. Fines can be a low as $500 and as high as $5000, depending on the details of the offense. Generally littering is a nuisance and not a pollution emergency.

    A pollution emergency is a sudden threat to the public health or the well-being of the environment from the release or potential release of oil, radioactive materials, or hazardous chemicals into the air, land, or water. To report a pollution emergency, call the EGLE Pollution Emergency Alerting System at 800-292-4706.

    For wildlife violations, contact the Report all Poaching hotline at 1-800-292-7800 or complete the online complaint form.

    For assistance with training local law enforcement officers to enforce environmental crimes, see the EGLE Environmental Crimes Handbook and call the EGLE Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9278.