Lets see if I can clear up any of the confusion on the trade mission trip to Ontario and the City of Toronto. The purpose of this trip is to introduce the delegation of Michigan legislators to key individuals and governmental departments in Ontario to initiative talks on how to improve commerce and trade between our state and the province. This will be a bipartisan delegation with each side picking their own members. The emphasis is on improving opportunities to increase trade and improve our state's economy
Solid waste issues have been such a major issue, especially on our side of the border, that it would probably be impossible to not discuss this matter on a legislative delegation to Ontario and Toronto. That is one of the reasons that I was asked by my fellow Democrats to go on this trip, so that I could articulate our position on solid waste, what the solid waste legislation is trying to do, and communicate this in an informative manner to our Canadian counterparts and officials in the City of Toronto's government. There is no “deal in the works” on Canadian or imported trash. I am unsure of what Rep. Rivet was referring to in his remarks to the Bay City Times, it appears to be a local company that he was highlighting to the press, but it is not part of our agenda for this trip nor is it something that we will be discussing on this trip.
One thing that I believe will be on our agenda is to learn more about Toronto's “Zero Waste” strategy and see if it can provide our communities and state with an avenue to reduce our own solid waste stream. Michigan lags behind other Great Lakes states in our level of recycling and waste reduction. Furthermore, I truly believe that reduction, reuse and recycling can be an economic development strategy. Pennsylvania is reporting that it recycled more than 4 million tons of municipal materials in 2002. This has helped build a $23.4 billion recycling industry in the state that includes 141 manufacturers of recycled products; employs 81,000 employees; generates $18.4 billion in annual sales; and contributes $305 million in state taxes. There may be opportunities for recycling, if we are serious about diverting items, like electronic waste and cathode ray tubes, from our solid waste stream that will prove to be an avenue for economic development as well as an avenue for environmental protection. I would be interested in seeing what plans the Canadians have for handling such items and to see if there are opportunities to work together on these issues.
There may be additional opportunities in Ontario to talk about other environmental issues including protecting the Great Lakes. I look forward to meeting with our counterparts in Ontario to discuss these extremely important issues.
I hope that this explanation will help to alleviate some misplaced fear that something bad was in the works on imported trash.