Skip to main content

By the Numbers: Recycling in Michigan at all-time high

Recycling in Michigan is now at an all-time high, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced at a virtual press conference that kicked off Earth Week 2023 this week.

 Recycling bins on the curb awaiting pick up.  

Recycling bins curbside awaiting pickup. 


EGLE also announced a record-setting $15.6 million in recycling infrastructure grants to communities, nonprofits and businesses across the state.

“We can all be proud that Michiganders are recycling now more than ever before,” said Regina Strong, EGLE Environmental Justice Public Advocate. She noted that Michigan’s recycling activities and infrastructure investments represent a bipartisan effort in a historic partnership with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature in combination with the nonprofit sector and business community that the state has never seen before.

Here are some statistics from the virtual “Recycling State of the State” press conference:

  • The total amount of residential recycled materials being reported for Fiscal Year 2022 was 620,494 tons – over 66,000 tons more than the previous record set the year before.
  • Materials that Michiganders recycled last year would fill the football stadiums at Ford Field, Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium and the Big House at the University of Michigan.
  • Michiganders recycled over 339,000 tons of paper and paper products during FY 2022, more than 154,000 tons of metals, more than 71,000 tons of glass, and over 45,000 tons of plastic and plastic products.
  • The amount recycled equates to every person in Michigan recycling 124 pounds last year.
  • Some 75% of the state’s population has access to recycling services.
  • EGLE and The Recycling Partnership have rolled out 48,468 new curbside recycling carts to communities around the state in 2022.
  • Michigan’s recycling rate has risen from 14.25% prior to 2019 to over 21%, based on an EGLE 2023 analysis.
  • Recycling, reuse, and remanufacturing industries in Michigan provide 72,500 jobs and contribute more than $17 billion a year to the state’s total economic output.
  • EGLE’s total allocation of $15.6 million in 2023 grants across the state is more than Michigan has ever invested in recycling infrastructure and technology – more than double last year’s record $7 million of investments.

Recycling infrastructure projects EGLE touted during the press conference include:

  • The new state-of-the-art $35 million recycling processing facility WM (formerly Waste Management) is planning in Detroit received a $465,000 EGLE grant.
  • The City of Flint will receive a $1 million ELGE grant that will go toward providing all 34,000 households in the city with a free 96-gallon recycling cart. The Recycling Partnership also pledged a grant of up to $3.3 million in additional funding for Flint.
  • The Kent County Department of Public Works (DPW) future Sustainable Business Park in Kent and Allegan counties received a $4 million EGLE grant that will go toward infrastructure improvements such as utilities, roads, and stormwater to prepare it for tenants.
  • Kent County DPW also receive a $499,999 EGLE grant to purchase baler equipment to direct-bale old corrugated cardboard at its North Kent Transfer Station. DPW is leveraging EGLE’s grant with $385,001 in federal funds to complete the $885,000 acquisition and installation in the existing transfer station building that is being converted to a recycling dropoff facility.
  • Kent County DPW was awarded a $406,000 EGLE grant to help buy new robotic sorting equipment to automate line sorting at its Recycling & Education Center. The DPW is leveraging the EGLE grant with $174,000 in federal funding to complete the $580,000 purchase.
  • Alpena County has received a new $2.7 million federal grant supported by EGLE that will help fund its proposed new $5.4 million regional dual-stream material recovery facility. Proponents say the project, which received a $1 million EGLE grant last year, will serve as a model for rural recycling throughout Michigan and the United States.
  • Detroit-based VMX International is the recipient of a $100,000 small business development grant from EGLE. The grant will support VMX’s plan to build a new $50 million lithium-ion battery recycling facility headquartered in Detroit.

“These strategic investments by EGLE reflect the commitment of communities across Michigan to finding modern and scalable solutions across our entire recycling system,” noted Matt Flechter, EGLE recycling market development specialist.

EGLE representatives at the press conference were joined by Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley; Aaron Johnson, WM Great Lakes area vice president; Darwin Bass, Kent County Department of Public Works director; Vickie Lewis, VMX International founder and CEO; and Cindy Johnson, Alpena mayor pro-tem and Northeast Michigan Materials Management Authority chair.

The results announced at the news conference come from a more than four-year review of statewide data by EGLE researchers that aligns with the 2019 launch of EGLE’s national award-winning “Know It Before You Throw It” recycling education campaign featuring the Recycling Raccoon Squad.