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As of: 4:46 PM, 11/29/21

Waste Management

Surpassing our Goal with a 54% Waste Reduction

We’ve focused sharply on reducing waste – and those efforts are generating positive results. In 2018, we set a goal to reduce the waste we send to landfills by 35% from a 2017 baseline. In 2020, we surpassed that goal by reducing our waste 54%, which amounts to a reduction of 16,205 tons of landfill waste. Our 2021 waste-reduction goal aims to sustain this momentum and reduce waste sent to landfills by another 10%.

Our waste reduction plan includes innovative thinking to reduce waste and reuse items. We’ve installed additional recycling and composting collection centers in our facilities. And we recycle items like utility poles and the protective gear used by our crews to create surfaces for playgrounds and parks. We conduct site evaluations to better understand how much trash we generate and how our facilities handle their waste. View our annual Waste Report for detailed information and baseline metrics.

Inspired by the Company We Keep

We belong to industry groups that help fuel and hone ideas to reduce waste and conserve. Our involvement with the Electric Power Research Institute’s Energy Sustainability Interest Group provides valuable benchmarking and quality data to help us reach our sustainability goals. Leadership from more than 40 utility companies participate and work to establish industry standards. The Michigan Recycling Coalition, which champions effective resource use and recovery, is another key partner in our waste reduction goals.

Reducing Coal Combustion Residuals

Fly ash and bottom ash are produced when coal is used to make electricity. It’s a type of waste referred to in the industry as coal combustion residuals, or CCRs. We are responsible for the safe collection and disposal of CCRs. CCRs are collected and placed in a disposal facility that’s licensed and inspected by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

EGLE approves and reviews engineering plans, groundwater monitoring programs, closure plans and financial assurance for each of our disposal facilities. Plant staff conduct daily inspections of each facility, and third-party professional engineers conduct annual inspections of all facilities for safety and stability. Additionally, EGLE makes quarterly visits to conduct compliance inspections.

The fly ash handling systems at each of our five coal-generating facilities were converted to dry systems by 2009, which greatly reduced wastewater. We are committed to handling fly and bottom ash safely, including reuse of concrete and other materials when possible. These efforts contribute to greater environmental protection.

Upon closure of CCR disposal facilities, we receive certification from EGLE that the facility has completed the necessary requirements from the approved closure plans. A 30-year post-closure care period is then initiated, including inspecting the final cover, maintaining the vegetation on the cover and completing noted maintenance. Groundwater monitoring programs continue during this post-closure period to ensure compliance with water quality standards.

In addition to state regulations, CCRs are regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. In compliance with this law, we have provided data related to the operation and maintenance of our CCR disposal facilities on the Consumers Energy website’s CCR Rule Compliance.