Huuki legislation: Guidelines for paper byproducts

Michigan would follow Wisconsin’s streamlined process for using waste byproducts from paper mills to boost revenue and agriculture crop production in the state under legislation introduced by Rep. Matt Huuki this week.

House Bill 5438 promotes the reuse of paper mill waste as fertilizer and compost material, as well as other commercial applications.

“When properly recycled, the byproduct from our paper mills is an inert material that has tremendous value because of its remaining biomass properties,” said Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine. “We can help Michigan companies be more competitive by incorporating a recycling policy similar to Wisconsin’s program that not only avoids costly landfilling of the material but also returns added value and a good use to something that is currently just being thrown out.”

HB 5438 would exclude paper mill waste treatment sludge from designation as a solid waste, allowing for agriculture and silvicultural purposes that are beneficial to crop or forest production, as well as soil quality improvement.

The bill also sets guidelines for nuisance and other violation complaints and requires companies using the exclusion to keep usage records available to the state for five years.

“Michigan’s forest products industry is a key part of the state economy by contributing $12 billion annually and supporting 150,000 jobs,” Huuki said. “Allowing the paper mill byproducts to be recycled and reused is a smart business choice and a double-win, because it decreases costs while adding more jobs and revenue to our local economy.”

HB 5438 is now under consideration by the House Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee.