EGLE announces largest amount of recycling grants to U.P. communities this century

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 2019
Jill Greenberg, EGLE Public Information Officer, GreenbergJ@michigan.gov, 517-897-4965

Marquette launch for Know It Before You Throw It education campaign includes Recycling Raccoon Squad  

MARQUETTE – The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy today announced seven grants totaling more than $1.5 million that, combined with local funds, will deliver more than $7 million to expand and improve recycling infrastructure in Marquette, Chippewa, Houghton and Mackinac counties.

It’s the largest allocation of recycling grants this century to communities in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by the state’s environmental agency.

The U.P. grant announcements are part of the Marquette launch of Know It Before You Throw It, EGLE’s first-ever statewide education campaign to better inform Michiganders on what can – and cannot – be recycled and how to recycle correctly.

“We want to inform and inspire more people than ever before in Michigan about how to recycle better,” said EGLE Materials Management Division Director Jack Schinderle.

“This campaign is a first of its kind for Michigan that offers multiple benefits,” Schinderle said. “Increasing recycling and improving the quality of materials we’re recycling saves energy, reduces water use, decreases greenhouse gases, conserves resources and translates into local jobs.”

EGLE’s goal is to promote awareness of cleaner recycling practices to reduce the amount of contaminated materials improperly going into recycling bins. The state also wants to double Michigan’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and ultimately reach 45% annually. Michigan’s current 15% recycling rate is the lowest in the Great Lakes region and ranks among the nation’s lowest.

Achieving EGLE’s 30% recycling goal would produce as many as 12,986 jobs, which translates into an economic impact of up to $300 million annually, according to the Expanding Recycling in Michigan Report prepared for the Michigan Recycling Partnership.

To move further toward that benchmark, EGLE today unveiled seven U.P. grants including a public-private partnership with Closed Loop Partners, a New York City-based investment firm dedicated to advancing recycling infrastructure and innovation that is helping finance Marquette’s new project.

The EGLE grants in the U.P. that were awarded today during the Know It Before You Throw It campaign kickoff include:

  • $800,000 that will help support the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority’s (MCSWMA) nearly $6 million plan to replace its recycling processing center with a new, state-of-the-art materials recovery facility that will increase access to recycling in surrounding municipalities and commercial businesses, including restoration of a glass recycling program that hasn’t existed for several years in the Marquette area.
  • $374,400 that will help Kinross Township officials’ $624,000 plan to expand and enhance their organics recycling program by increasing the ability to collect and process food waste from Chippewa and Mackinac counties.
  • $221,328 that will help support Sands Township planned construction of a new recycling/transfer station in Marquette that will increase capacity, expand the types of materials accepted for recycling and grow participation.
  • $65,152 that will help support a $108,000 effort by Comprenew and Goodwill of Upper Michigan to enhance and expand an existing collaborative electronics recycling collection program the partnership has established across the U.P. by increasing their processing capability at their City of Marquette processing center.
  • $46,760 that will help support Mackinac Island’s nearly $84,000 plan for a new storage building as part of a broad effort to expand on its existing recycling collection program, including accepting new types of recyclable materials and expanding public space recycling opportunities throughout the island’s state parks.
  • $24,894 that will help support Michigan Technological University’s planned $41,000-plus expansion of its existing campus recycling program and begin a new food waste collection program in their cafeterias.
  • $8,363 that will help support the city of Hancock’s $14,000-plus planned enhancement of its existing curbside recycling collection program by switching 400 customers from using their own bins of various types and sizes in favor of standardized 35-gallon wheeled and lidded carts.

The Know It Before You Throw It campaign launches as communities across Michigan and the U.S. are struggling with international market shifts, resulting in higher costs for some local governments that fail to meet new industrywide cleanliness standards for recyclable materials.

EGLE officials were joined at the MCSWMA Recycling Processing Station news conference site by state Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan; Mike Prusi, director of Gov. Whitmer’s Northern Michigan office in Marquette; Marquette Mayor Pro Tempore Sarah Reynolds; MCSWMA Director of Operations Bradley A. Austin; and Closed Loop Partners Managing Director Robert Milligan.

“On behalf of Upper Peninsula and Mackinac Island residents, we thank Gov. Whitmer, the Michigan Legislature and EGLE for their leadership and for working together to develop a strategy that will help improve and sustain our region’s environment now and throughout the 21st century,” Reynolds said.

Recycling in Michigan is receiving a major boost as state legislators in an overwhelmingly bipartisan move have increased EGLE’s funding for recycling from $2 million last year to $15 million in 2019. The extra funds will support development of recycling markets, increase access to recycling opportunities and reinforce planning efforts to grow recycling at the local level.

“There have been many recommendations the past few years by task forces and coalitions about the need to put more resources into recycling education and supporting local communities’ programs,” McBroom said. “The grant projects announced today will take a positive step toward reaching those recommendations and I am pleased that Marquette, Chippewa, Houghton and Mackinac counties in the Upper Peninsula can be a part of the program and get a boost with their recycling infrastructure.”

EGLE kicked off the campaign in Marquette by introducing the Michigan Recycling Raccoon Squad, a six-member team of recycling champions who will serve as EGLE’s education ambassadors. EGLE-commissioned research shows that education is key for residents to learn how to properly recycle. For example:

  • 50% of Michigan residents mistakenly believe they’re allowed to recycle plastic bags in their curbside recycling, which is prohibited by most municipalities.
  • 76% of Michiganders are unaware that failing to rinse and empty items before putting them in the recycling bin poses a risk of contaminating everything in the bin.

Michigan recycles more than 90% of bottles and cans that carry a deposit, but such returnable containers represent only 2% of all the waste Michiganders recycle every year. Almost 53% of the state’s municipal solid waste that goes to landfills could instead go to recycling facilities.

“Well-informed consumers make recycling work,” Austin said. “By encouraging people to focus on the basics and think about what they’re recycling before they toss it, we can improve our environment and build stronger communities across the U.P.”

“Michigan manufacturers rely on a clean, steady supply of recycled materials to make new products,” Milligan said.

“Keeping valuable materials in circulation and out of landfills ensures that businesses get what they need to produce their products,” Milligan said. “EGLE’s campaign is good for business and will help employers create more prosperous local economies.”

Five decades have passed since Michigan’s historic accomplishment with bottle deposit legislation earned the state national acclaim as an environmental champion, noted Prusi, who previously served in the Michigan Legislature for 14 years before retiring due to term limits.

“Michigan has unfortunately gotten complacent over that time,” Prusi said. “We can – and must – become America’s leaders again in recycling. The EGLE campaign is a tremendous opportunity for Michigan to advance to the next level of performance in protecting our environment.”

More information about the Know It Before You Throw It campaign is available at RecyclingRaccoons.org.

To stay up to date on other EGLE News, follow us at Michigan.gov/MIEnvironment

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