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Learn About Waste Management

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Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Learn About Waste Management

In recent years, waste management in Michigan has changed focus from landfill disposal to highest and best reuse of discarded materials through conservation, repurposing, and recycling. This shift has resulted in more materials repurposed, reclaimed, and recycled or diverted to incineration, instead of going to a landfill. Learn more about sustainable waste management options and how landfills work at the links below. Learn more about recycling commodities like paper, plastic, wood, glass, etc., on our Learn About Recycling Website

COVID Personal Protective Equipment

As businesses begin to assume normal operations while minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19, EGLE encourages the use of reusable personal protective equipment (PPE).  If using disposable PPE, it can be managed as a solid waste.   To encourage proper disposal, place solid waste container near entrances and exits and empty frequently to prevent littering. PPE should never be placed in recycling bins, as recycling facility employees performing the sorting of the materials would be exposed to the PPE, jeopardizing their safety, and increasing risks to public health.
Disposal of Personal Protective Equipment used to prevent the spread of COVID
Mercury-containing household hazardous waste being collected

Household Hazardous Waste

Household hazardous waste (HHW) includes products that we purchase and use every day in our homes that can harm us or the environment if they are not handled properly.  To see if a material is a HHW, look for words such as 'warning,' 'caution,' 'flammable,' 'toxic,' 'poison,' 'corrosive,' 'oxidizer,' etc. on the labels. If you have leftover, unwanted household materials that are hazardous, it is best to routinely take them to a local HHW collection if one is available. Never pour HHW into a storm drain or down a drain in your home.  If a collection is not available, contact your trash hauler to see if there are special instructions for safely disposing the material in the regular trash.  

Learn more about Household Hazardous Waste

Drug Disposal

Proper drug disposal is important because it helps protect human health and our environment. Unwanted drugs should not be flushed down the rain.  Medications should be kept secure when in the home to prevent unlawful use.  When drugs are no longer needed, they should be taken to a collection for incineration to destroy the chemicals within them and prevent them from entering the water resources we use for drinking water.
Learn more about Drug Disposal
Solid waste hauler garage

Solid Waste Haulers

Garbage trucks come in different designs that are dependent on the type of containers they service.  Garbage trucks that collect household trash hold between 12 to 14 tons of waste and can service between 800 and 850 homes before going to the landfill. 
Learn more about solid waste hauling

Needles and Lancets

Needles and lancets, also called “sharps,” if not disposed of in puncture- resistant containers, can injure waste haulers, pollute our environment, and increase the risk of infection. People at the greatest risk of suffering a needle stick injury include sanitation and sewage treatment plant workers, janitors, housekeepers, and children. Needle stick injury victims may suffer anxiety, depression, disease monitoring, and possible long-term infectious disease treatment. 
Learn more about Needles, Lancets, and other Medical Waste Streams

Solid Waste Landfill

Today’s landfills are sophisticated, highly engineered systems designed to protect people and our groundwater by controlling and managing newly generated waste or emissions from the decomposing waste in the disposal facility.  To reduce the impacts of our material choices on our natural resources, the environment, and climate, EGLE permits and licenses solid waste disposal facilities, while encouraging residents reuse, repurpose, recycle, and divert materials not well suited for landfill disposal, like household hazardous waste.    
Learn more about Solid Waste Landfills

Food Waste

Each day in the US approximately one pound of food per person is wasted. One third of the food produced in the world goes to waste. In America in 2017 81.4 billion pounds of food waste was generated, 30-40 percent of the entire food supply. Some food products never leave the farm, some get lost or spoiled during distribution, and the rest gets thrown away once purchased. This could be enough to feed every undernourished person on the planet.  Read on to learn more about how you can help prevent food waste.
Learn more about Food Waste


Compost is organic material that has been decomposed in a controlled manner. It is commonly referred to as black gold by gardeners and provides some fertility to plants. Compost, whether homemade or store bought, recycles nutrients and organic materials, and helps grow trouble-free plants.
Learn more about Composting


Scrap tires pose a fire risk and a human health risk as mosquito breeding grounds. Whole tires have been banned from Michigan landfills since 2004. Over 10 million scrap tires are generated annually in Michigan. These tires can be turned into mulch, tire derived fuel, incorporated into roads, shredded, and used for aggregate in backfill and drain fields, and some are even used to manufacture new tires and plastics.
Learn more about Scrap Tires


Electronics, such as computers, computer monitors, televisions, laptops, VCRs, cell phones, printers, computer mice, remote controls, telephones, video games, fax machines, printers, and electronic cigarettes often contain toxic materials such as lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and fire retardants.  It is important to recycle e-waste for the valuable materials and to keep toxic materials out of our landfills.  It is also important to recognize how to safely recycle these materials.
Learn more about eWaste