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Waste Bills For Manufacturing Will Impact Ag

October 9, 2014
Agriculture Blog Post

Originally published by Michigan Farm News on September 9, 2014; republished with permission.

The Solid Waste Management Act, which is intended to facilitate the beneficial reuse of industrial by-products, was amended on June 17, 2014, when Gov. Rick Snyder signed Public Act 178 of 2014 (PA 178). Although the amendments were primarily intended to benefit the manufacturing industry, they will have a direct impact on agriculture as well. PA 178 allows for five beneficial reuse categories, including Beneficial Reuse Category 3 (which allows for the land application of certain industrial by-products for use as a fertilizer, soil conditioner or liming agent), and Beneficial Reuse Category 5 (which allows certain industrial by-products to be blended with inert materials or compost and used to manufacture soil).

The PA 178 amendments, for the land application of a variety of high-volume/low-impact materials that are either inert or have some value as a fertilizer or soil conditioner (e.g., coal ash, wood ash, paper mill ash, cement and lime kiln dust, foundry sand, dewatered concrete grinding slurry, and lime softening residuals). Land application of such "beneficial use by-products" under Beneficial Use Category 3 must be performed at an agronomic rate consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices. Additionally, PA 178 sets "cumulative load" standards (in pounds per acre) for the land application of eight metals (arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium and zinc) that may be present in beneficial use by-products. 

The PA 178 amendments relating to composting under Beneficial Use Category 5 are much more restrictive, only allowing composting of foundry sand from ferrous or aluminum foundries, and only after representative sampling is performed (including leachate and totals analysis) to demonstrate compliance with maximum concentration limits for various constituents. 

Despite many of the continuing limitations and restrictions for land application and composting of beneficial use by-products discussed above, the PA 178 amendments are likely to stimulate additional reuse in the agricultural sector since they clarify and streamline the requirements for land application and composting. Furthermore, because many beneficial use by-products have value as soil nutrients, fertilizers or soil conditioners, the land application and composting of those by-products may also present a low-cost soil amendment option.

The PA 178 amendments become effective on September 16, 2014. 

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