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Nearly 100 Michigan Communities Collaborate with State, National Partners to Dramatically Improve the Capture of Valuable Recyclables

Michigan EGLE and The Recycling Partnership have awarded nearly $791,000 in grant funding that will impact 98 communities to help 362,000 households improve the quantity and quality of their recycling

Together, nearly 100 Michigan communities, representing more than 1.1 million residents, are joining local, state, regional, and national partners to drastically improve the capture of high-quality recyclables across the Great Lakes state through community recycling quality improvement projects that will be implemented this year.

Partnering with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and The Recycling Partnership, the action agent transforming the U.S. residential recycling system for good, as well as materials recovery facilities, haulers, and resource and solid waste management authorities, 98 Michigan communities will develop and implement operational and educational strategies to dramatically improve the quality of their recycling, leading to improved recycling statistics and a reduction in recycling contamination or what occurs when trash is misdirected into the recycling bin. This 2022 project is building on the impact made during a 2021 project with a similar goal to improve recycling across Michigan that reached 100 communities. And of the 13 grantees in the 2022 project, five of them are prior grantees using data gathered in the first round to continue and further their impact.

“We were so pleased to have the opportunity to again collaborate with The Recycling Partnership and Michigan communities on this important project. The results from last year have been remarkable, and we’re thrilled to know that it will continue to benefit local recycling programs across the state,” says Emily Freeman, Recycling Specialist from the Materials Management Division at MI EGLE.

The statewide initiative continues to build upon the success of Michigan’s award-winning “Know It Before You Throw It” recycling education campaign EGLE launched in 2019. It will also leverage The Recycling Partnership’s nationally acclaimed Feet on the Street cart-tagging recycling education program, an initiative designed to improve the quality of curbside recycling by providing residents personalized and real-time education and feedback on their curbside recycling practices. Communities with drop-off recycling services will use a modified version of the Feet on the Street program to combat recycling contamination and illegal/illicit dumping at recycling drop-off sites while also improving awareness and participation in recycling.

“The Recycling Partnership is thrilled to continue supporting the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and communities across the Great Lakes state to improve the quality of their residential recycling streams,” said Cassandra Ford, Community Program Manager at The Partnership. “When we help Michiganders recycle, we’re creating a cleaner and less wasteful planet while building stronger, healthier Michigan communities.”

Through The Partnership’s Feet on the Street recycling education program, some communities have seen a 57% decrease of nonrecyclables and an average 27% increase in the overall capture of quality recyclables that can then be transformed into new products and packaging.

The community recycling education and quality improvement projects will begin as early as March 2022 and continue through the end of October. Over $790,000 in grant funding will be allocated to 13 recycling program grantees representing more than 362,000 households across the Great Lakes states, including:

  • Alger County
  • Brighton
  • Canton Township
  • Grand Rapids
  • Kalamazoo
  • Lansing
  • Montcalm County
  • Newaygo County
  • Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland
  • Saugatuck, Douglass, Saugatuck Township (Tri-Cities Recycling Committee)
  • Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority
  • Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority
  • Westland

In addition to supporting the 13 Phase II grantees, EGLE and The Partnership recently launched The Michigan Small Community Education Grant Program, which provides communities with fewer than 10,000 households recycling education and outreach materials to inform residents about how, where, and why to recycle.

Now, more than ever, Americans view recycling as an essential and valuable public service, providing a critical supply of materials for local manufacturing. Overall, Michigan’s recycling industry supports 36,000 jobs statewide, an annual payroll of $2.6 billion according to a 2020 study commissioned by Michigan EGLE. To learn more about how Michigan EGLE and The Partnership are teaming up to improve recycling across the state, visit: Michigan.gov/egle and click on Recycling.