Washtenaw County has only one operational landfill — Arbor Hills. Note that Arbor Hills gets 90% of its volume from outside Washtenaw County.
Washtenaw County has two closed landfills: the City of Ann Arbor Landfill closed in 1994 and the Chelsea Sanitary Landfill closed in 1991.
Washtenaw County sends only 40% of its waste to Arbor Hills Landfill, which comprises 10% of the dump’s total volume.
The Arbor Hills Landfill consists of Arbor Hills East, a 161-acre closed landfill, and Arbor Hills West, a 336-acre active landfill. Arbor Hills is in Salem Township in northeast Washtenaw
County at 10690 W. Six Mile Road.
Advanced Disposal is the waste disposal company responsible for the landfill. On April 25, 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed in response to odor issues at Arbor Hills Landfill. Apparently a settlement was reached on Sept. 1, 2017. A significant number of those hurt by this landfill opted out of the lawsuit. The Conservancy Initiative had no part in this lawsuit and did not support it. The nonprofit did not see any merit to the lawsuit brought by Liddle & Dubin of Detroit. They have filed odor suits throughout the country, most of which benefit the lawyers greatly and the residents poorly.
On February 9, 2015 Advanced Disposal requested by letter to Washtenaw County’s Water Resource Commissioner’s Office an amendment to the county solid waste plan to increase its footprint. Advanced suspended its request on Aug. 29, 2016. Advanced has assured residents of its intention to resubmit its expansion request but they won’t share their timeline. Learn more about the proposed expansion.
Advanced Disposal operates a yard waste composting area directly across the street from the landfill. Advanced is planning to open a new commercial maintenance shed “to serve up to 8 transient employees” near the compost site. View permits and plans.
Advanced Disposal, Republic Services and Fortistar Methane Group have all received violations from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Learn more about the violations. Advanced and Republic were engaged in legal action for years. Read related news article
Update: Republic Services (BFI) no longer owns any part of the landfill, including the gas collection system.
- Complaint – Oct. 22, 2014
- Transcript, preliminary injunction – Nov. 26, 2014
- Judgment – Feb. 5, 2016
- Motion for further relief – May 5, 2016
In February 2017, Republic and Advanced came to an agreement that allowed Advanced to take over the gas collection system and the old portion of the landfill that Republic used to own.
The landfill gas collected from Arbor Hills is taken to Fortistar Methane Group, Arbor Hills Energy (LLC) at 10611 West 5 Mile Road. The gas collection facility has received several violations from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for exceeding sulfur dioxide emission standards. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sulfur dioxide links short-term exposure ranging from 5 minutes to 24 hours, with an array of adverse respiratory effects.
Arbor Hills has had many fires over the years. The Great Lakes Recycling facility on its campus had a massive fire on Nov. 20, 2016 that required 1 million gallons of water and a dozen fire departments to extinguish. A few firefighters were injured during the fire. At least one was taken to the hospital. Learn more
Read more about landfill fires.
The Arbor Hills Landfill was opened in 1970 by Holloway Sand and Gravel. It’s had many owners and expansions since then. The first development, now known as Arbor Hills East (AHE), was originally a gravel extraction operation. When AHE was about half filled, Holloway sold the entire site to Browning Ferris Industries (BFI), which operated AHE and began construction of Arbor Hills West.
In 1990, BFI closed the Arbor Hills East facility per Michigan Department of Natural Resources regulations.
The Arbor Hills West facility expansion was permitted after the 1989 Washtenaw County Solid Waste Plan Update. Washtenaw County has entered into a long-term agreement with Arbor Hills Landfill that guarantees disposal capacity for all waste generated within the county. The agreement calls for a capacity fee to be paid to the county that helps finance local waste reduction and recycling programs.
Host Community Agreement And Lease – 1991 between Salem Township and BFI.
Veolia ES Arbor Hills Landfill, Inc., a Michigan corporation known as Veolia, acquired the Arbor Hills Landfill on March 31, 2000.
The Salem Twp. dump was owned by Veolia in 2009, the last time the landfill was expanded. See the second amendment to the Host Community Agreement And Lease.
The east and west landfills are part of a larger complex called The Arbor Hills Center for Resource Management. Other on-site facilities include a materials recovery facility, a wood chipping operation, a methane gas recovery plant and an education center. A composting facility is located just north of the facility. According to the Washtenaw County Solid Waste Management Plan, other facilities approved for the site include a confidential document destruction operation, medical waste autoclave plant and tire shredding. These may or may not be constructed in the future.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality lists many names for the landfill throughout the years, including Onyx Arbor Hills LF, Browning Ferris Industries, Onyx Arbor Hills Landfill Inc., Arbor Hills West Expanded Sanitary Landfill, Veolia ES Arbor Hills Landfill Inc. and, most recently, Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill Inc.