Ann Arbor is home to the state’s only zero waste materials recovery facility. The MRF is also one of four of its kind in the country. The two-year-old MRF cost more than $7 million to build and is run by the nonprofit Recycle Ann Arbor. Its mission is to sort and send recycled materials to local manufacturers that will recycle the products again for their best use.

CEO Bryan Ukena has been part of the recycling movement since the 1980s. He said many items make their way into the MRF that shouldn’t.  “Plastic’s probably the biggest issue,” Ukena said. “Just because it’s plastic doesn’t mean you throw it in the cart. Don’t put it in and wish that it could be recycled. We call that ‘wish-cycling.’ When in doubt, leave it out.”

Trucks arrive at the facility on a near-constant basis from around Washtenaw and surrounding counties.  Loader operator Brian Stewart begins processing the materials and makes sure no contaminants are present.  “I am the first line of defense,” he said.

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Author: Meredith Bruckner, CBS News Detroit
Image: CBS News Detroit