State grants to increase East Lansing recycling, add styrofoam

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In September, East Lansing received two recycling grants from the Michigan Department of Environmental Equality: one for education, and one for infrastructure.

The grants are part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2014 Residential Recycling Plan of Action. The department gave out nearly 30 grants across the state, totaling more than $500,000. East Lansing received about $18,000.

Environmental Services Administrator Catherine DeShambo said, “The recycling education grant will be used for outreach and education to residents to both increase participation and volume and to control contamination. Our recycling infrastructure grant will be used to increase our public space recycling in downtown and in recreation areas and to establish a styrofoam recycling station at our drop-off site.”

Two years ago, the city modified its curbside recycling program to a cart system, and residents responded well. The average amount recycled jumped from 50 tons per month to more than 120 tons. Participation in the program has also increased to 80 percent of the community.

“Our goal is to continuously increase our recycling volumes and reduce our trash to landfill, DeShambo said. “By creating additional opportunity and increasing outreach and education, we believe we can accomplish this.”

While nearly all common recyclables can be collected in curbside pickup, styrofoam cannot. It is one of the most frequently cited materials that residents would like to recycle but are unable to.

“Personally, I’d rather East Lansing ban styrofoam overall, as it would have the most environmentally positive impact,” said environmental advocate Sarah Adele. “But, I suppose, recycling is better than nothing.”

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