Lansing’s Capital Area Recycling and Trash (CART) have been providing curbside recycling to residents for nearly 21 years.
The green bin system began in 1991 but the city has been picking up trash in one form or another for nearly 100 years, said Lansing’s Recycling Coordinator, Lori Miller.
“We have gone from just picking up trash on the side of the road to a comprehensive solid waste collection program focused on waste reduction,” said Miller. “We now have a strong education and outreach component and are trying to create an environmental ethic in our community.”
“Now that we have single stream recycling, it has been easier for our residents to recycle and we are seeing a change—more recycling, less trash.”
CART switched to single stream recycling program in 2010, said Miller. Single stream means there is no more sorting and residents can put all items together in the bin.
“As a full-time student, the single stream program is really convenient,” said Ashley Hall, a resident of Lansing. “The fact that I don’t have to take the time to sort out each item works nicely with my busy schedule.”
Hall is an advocate for recycling because of its benefits on the environment, she said.
“I think it’s great that CART allows citizens to recycle such a variety of items that would probably go in a landfill otherwise,” said Hall.
Single stream allows Lansing residents to recycle cartons, paper boxes, file folders, phone books, household scrap metal, bulky rigid plastic and more.
“We also added new materials to the list so there is much less to throw away,” said Miller.
To see a list of recyclables that are accepted, visit: http://cityoflansingmi.com/pubserv/wastereduction/index.jsp
A record of 2700 tons of recycling was collected in 2011, a 40 percent increase since the city switched to the single stream collection method.
For a breakdown of the environmental benefits of recycling, visit:
According to a survey done in 2010, 75 percent of Lansing residents participated in CART’s services, said Miller.
“This was before single stream and we know that even more people are participating now,” said Miller.
Liz Starke, a board member of Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition (MSSC), uses the green bin recycling each week, she said.
“I think it’s great that CART offers free services,” said Starke. “A lot more people take advantage of recycling because it’s easily accessible which keeps more non-biodegradable waste out of the landfill.”
Community members such as Hall and Starke believe their lifestyle would change drastically if CART charged for recycling services.
“I believe the residents would be serviced by a private sector for their trash and possibly recycling if the Capital Area Recycling and Trash system did not exist,” said Miller. “It would likely be an optional service they would pay extra for and I don’t believe participation would be as high.”
“I don’t think there would be an aggressive education and outreach component and without the city to really pioneer new initiatives, the services may not meet the needs and demands of the residents.”
Miller has worked for the City of Lansing for nearly 15 years, she said. She loves the variety of the work she is able to do.
“There is never a dull moment, said Miller. “I love knowing that my job makes a difference and being able to teach residents, children, and other community members and the ability to provide them with a valuable service is very rewarding.”