Together, more than 100 Michigan communities are joining state, regional and national partners to combat recycling contamination and improve the capture of high-quality recyclables across the Great Lakes State. Partnering with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and The Recycling Partnership, a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming recycling for good, as well as material recovery facilities (MRFs), haulers, and resource and solid waste management authorities, communities will develop and implement operational and educational strategies to improve the quality of their recycling streams, leading to cleaner recycling practices and a reduction in the amount of contaminated materials improperly going into recycling.
“We are looking forward to partnering with Michigan communities and The Recycling Partnership on this data-driven approach,” said Liz Browne, acting director of EGLE’s Materials Management Division. “It’s more important than ever to communicate with the public in order to improve the quality of materials being recycled. We all have a role to play in helping businesses get materials to make the essential products Michigan needs for our economic recovery from COVID-19, such as toilet paper, food containers, and shipping boxes.”
In addition to building upon the success of Michigan’s national award-winning Know It Before You Throw Itrecycling education campaign, the communities will utilize The Partnership’s “Feet on the Street” cart tagging program — a proven initiative to improve the quality of curbside recycling by providing residents personalized and real-time education and feedback.
“Our ‘Feet on the Street’ program works by giving Michigan residents instant feedback on what is and is not recyclable,” said Jill Martin, Chief Director of Community Programs at The Recycling Partnership. “Through this tailored feedback loop, we are helping Great Lakes State residents capture more quality recyclables that are then transformed into new materials, creating a healthier, more circular economy, a less wasteful planet, and stronger, healthier communities.”
Nationally, more than 70 communities representing 18 different states have implemented elements of The Recycling Partnership’s Feet on the Street program. Some communities have seen as much as a 57% decrease of nonrecyclables in recycling and average a 27% increase in the overall capture of quality recyclables. Michigan communities utilizing drop-off recycling programs will benefit from improved signage and site improvements, increased participation and other opportunities to educate residents on what is and isn’t recyclable.
The anti-contamination projects will begin as early as summer 2020 and continue through the end of 2021. The projects are made possible by an $800,000 EGLE grant, allocated in 2019, awarded to 14 grantees representing more than 100 communities and 300,000 households across the Great Lakes State. Grant recipients include:
- Alpena County
- Antrim County
- City of Auburn Hills
- Charter Township of Bangor
- City of Brighton
- Charter Township of Canton
- Emmet County
- City of Grand Rapids
- Leelanau County
- Manistee County
- Missaukee County
- Township of Portland
- RRRASOC (Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County)
- Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority
Currently, Michigan’s recycling industry generates nearly 36,000 jobs statewide and an annual payroll of $2.6 billion. Achieving EGLE’s 45% recycling goal ] would support 138,000 new jobs in Michigan’s recycling industry and provide $9 billion in annual labor income and $33.8 billion in economic output according to a newly available study commissioned by Michigan EGLE. Now, more than ever, Michigan residents view recycling as an essential public service. And during a time of social distancing where many non-essential employers are closed and commercial recycling is near an all-time low, producers see residential recycling programs as a critical supplier of manufacturing feedstock.