By Chris Hung
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter
With Michigan still trailing behind other Great Lakes states in recycling rates, plans in Meridian Township are in place to ensure it does not get left behind.
An estimate projects that $435 million of recyclable material annually goes to the landfill, instead of recycling facilities in Michigan.
“Michigan is not stellar at recycling,” Recycling and Energy Coordinator LeRoy Harvey explained. “Meridian is no exception, but efforts are in place to expand our recycling program.”
A current, updated goal is in place to bring Michigan’s rate of recycling up to 30 percent, to compete with neighboring states. While Michiganders recycle up to 90 percent of all their bottles and cans, it only makes up about 2 percent of all waste.
In an effort to achieve this goal, the state of Michigan is offering grants for communities to improve their recycling programs. Meridian is no exception, as talks are in place with Granger, Meridian’s main waste hauler, to provide free tubs and carts to residents strictly for recycling.
Michigan’s rate of recycling accounts for approximately 20 percent of all waste discarded in the state. With many other Great Lakes states recycling at a rate averaging at 31 percent efficiency, Michigan is both behind its neighbors and its 50 percent recycling rate goal for 2015, set back in 2007. The national average rate of recycling also exceeds Michigan’s, at 29 percent.
“Recycling pickup is hauled between 50 and 80 miles to a processing facility, and moving millions of pounds of material is expensive. It’s not cheap to recycle,” said Harvey. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not appropriate to do so.”
Currently, at least 64 percent of Granger customers in Meridian Township have requested recycling tubs that are collected every other week. At an additional cost of $1.50 per month, a larger bin will be provided for recycling collection to single family households and apartments. If the current negotiations with Granger succeeds, these bins would be distributed for free.
“Recycling rates go up drastically when curbside bin pickup is involved,” said Harvey.
In a recycling report provided by Granger, 2,259,400 pounds of material was recycled by Granger in Meridian Township in 2015 alone, with 88 percent of that contributed through single stream recycling (curbside pickup of recycling tubs and bins). Granger suggests that the recycled material in 2015 equates to the conservation of up to 7,910,000 gallons of water, where about 7,000 gallons can be saved per ton of waste recycled instead of dumped in a landfill.
The alternative to curbside pickup is the drop off of recyclables at locations in and near Meridian Township. Meanwhile, recycling events are hosted intermittently throughout the year and are listed on the township’s Green Gazette. Many of these events recycle items that are too big to recycle on a weekly basis, such as bicycles and mattresses.