Nationally Acclaimed Feet on the Street Cart-Tagging Campaign To Begin April 19, Helped by $14,400 Grant From Michigan EGLE & The Recycling Partnership
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The City of Auburn Hills is teaming with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership to introduce a first-of-its-kind communitywide project aimed at improving the quality of materials residents recycle in their curbside bins during 2021.
Auburn Hills will launch The Recycling Partnership’s Feet on the Street cart-tagging recycling campaign on April 19 with awareness and outreach activities to continue through the spring across the city.
Statewide, Michigan’s recycling quality improvement efforts with The Recycling Partnership rolled out last fall and will continue through the end of 2021. Auburn Hills is among more than 100 Michigan communities representing 300,000-plus households statewide who requested funding support from EGLE totaling $800,000 in individual grants, including a $14,400 grant to Auburn Hills.
It’s a new effort by Auburn Hills to improve the quality of recycling in single-stream curbside recycling bins by providing the city’s approximately 4,800 households with personalized and real-time curbside recycling education and feedback.
“Recycling is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do – and this program represents a major step forward for recycling in our community,” said Auburn Hills Mayor Kevin McDaniel.
“Recycling properly not only saves our taxpayers money by reducing the cost of processing at the materials recovery facility, but supports jobs and improves the health of the environment,” McDaniel said. “We know Auburn Hills residents want to recycle the right way. Through this Feet on the Street campaign, we are providing them customized, immediate feedback to do just that.”
The Feet on the Street program is intended to increase the amount of quality recyclables so that items accepted for recycling are guaranteed to make their way back into new products . Achieving that quality standard in recycled materials ensures they can circulate back in the recycling system to become new products or packaging while also reducing the amount of nonrecyclables in recycling bins.
Developed by The Recycling Partnership, the nationally acclaimed program helps communities achieve economically efficient recycling programs, reduces the number of new resources used in packaging by providing more recycled content for new products, and improves the cleanliness of communities.
Included in the Feet on the Street program is a comprehensive education and outreach strategy that involves a team of community-based observers – essentially a squad of “recycling detectives” – who will visit each Auburn Hills resident’s cart and provide tailored feedback on how to improve items that make it into the cart.
In addition, the education campaign will target Auburn Hills’ 4,800 single-family households in the proposed project area using direct mail pieces and social media messaging, as well as concentrated tagging efforts that address contamination.
Recipients of the Feet on the Street print and electronic informational fliers will be encouraged to recycle paper and cartons, cardboard, metal items such as cans, plastic bottles, jars and jugs, as well as glass bottles and jars. Residents also are urged to not bag their recyclables and to not recycle such items as plastic bags or plastic wraps, cords, hoseschains, yard waste, and food or liquids.
The flier will direct Auburn Hills recipients seeking more information to visit: auburnhills.org/recycle or call 248-391-3777.
“The Feet on the Street program works by giving residents instant feedback on what is and is not recyclable,” said Jill Martin, director of community programs at The Recycling Partnership.
“Through this personalized and real-time feedback loop, we are going to help Auburn Hills capture more quality recyclables that can then be transformed into new materials, creating and supporting jobs, a less wasteful planet and stronger, healthier communities,” Martin said.
Matt Flechter, recycling market development specialist with EGLE, said the recycling process isn’t complete until the materials are transformed into a new product for use. Those uses, he said, save energy, reduce water consumption, decrease greenhouse gasses and conserve resources while creating jobs and growing the economy.
“To ensure recyclables can be transformed into new products or packaging, recyclables should be empty and dry and recycling carts should only contain materials accepted in Auburn Hills,” Flechter said.
The goal of the Feet on the Street project will be to reduce the percentage of non-recyclables in residents’ recycling carts and educate community on how to recycle correctly.
Now, more than ever, Michigan residents view recycling as an essential public service. And during a time of social distancing when many nonessential employees are working remotely and commercial recycling is near an all-time low, producers see residential recycling programs as a critical supplier of manufacturing feedstock so they can make their products from recycled content instead of new materials.
“Auburn Hills is excited about this project and sees this as a great opportunity to help improve the recycling resource stream through much-needed public education on the benefits of recycling correctly,” McDaniel said, noting the City provided a $1,000 matching grant to support the campaign.
The Recycling Partnership has implemented the Feet on the Street program in 70 communities across the country, resulting in average 27% increases in the overall capture of quality recyclables with some communities seeing as much as a 57% decrease of non-recyclables in their recycling stream.
The Reccyling Partnership initiative aligns with EGLE’s “Know It Before You Throw It” recycling education campaign featuring the Recycling Raccoon Squad. The campaign is promoting best practices and emphasizes that recycling materials saves energy, reduces water use, decreases greenhouse gases, conserves resources and translates into local jobs.
“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.”
About The Recycling Partnership
The Recycling Partnership is the action agent transforming the U.S. residential recycling system for good. Our team operates at every level of the recycling value chain and works on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs and tackle circular economy challenges. As the leading organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain, from working with companies to make their packaging more circular and help them meet climate and sustainability goals, to working with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of the U.S. recycling system, The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 230 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 465 million gallons of water, avoided more than 250,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org