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Learn About Recycling
Learn About Recycling
If someone asked you to recite the materials that are collected through your curbside service or at your local recycling center, could you do it? It’s probably not a question that you’ve ever been asked, but it’s an important thing to know.
Unfortunately, recycling isn’t as straightforward as searching for a recycling symbol on a product. Many packages wear the “recycle” symbol but require a special recycling process that may not be available in your area. This is something that many people don’t realize before tossing an item into the recycling bin or choosing to toss it in the trash.
This page will help answer some of the questions you may have on recycling in Michigan.
Wait a minute! Should you throw that in the recycling bin?
Watch the EGLE Classroom Recycling 101 video to find out more. Sort out what is recycling fact from fiction using the Recycling 101 booklet.
Cleaning your Recyclables
Commonly Misunderstood Items
Recycling Cheat Sheet
Do not include everyday “trash” in your recycling bin.
Be sure to clean/rinse out recyclables of excessive residue Do not include any medical waste, COVID personal protective equipment, or personal hygiene items in your recycling bin. Check out our Recycling Raccoons Reference Sheet and Local Rules or contact your local recycling center for more information. Don’t nest materials with unlike materials (i.e. tin can inside a cereal box). Fill out our recycling cheat sheet and keep it near your at-home recycling station.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I find out more about recycling
Check out our Recycling Webpage and connect with our Recycling Raccoons Squad or one of our recycling specialists.
What is "wishful recycling"?
“I am not sure if this item can be recycled, but I’ll throw it in anyway, just in case…”
This is a statement that most avid recyclers have said at one point or another. This habit is referred to as “wishful recycling,” and while intentions are good, when you put materials into the recycling bin that shouldn’t be there, you may slow down the entire recycling process and simply send that item on a longer trip to the landfill. Most recycling facilities use manual sorting and/or machines to sort the recyclables. The more inappropriate items in the bin, the more inefficient and difficult sorting is for workers performing the sort by hand. Some items can damage or get caught in the machinery, causing an entire plant to shut down while the materials are removed and the machinery is fixed (plastic bags are often a culprit of this issue). Always refer to the list of acceptable items from your recycling service provider. Do your best to follow the guidelines provided to you, and you can help increase the value of recyclables provided by your community!
Why should I recycle?
It probably takes most people less than 30-minutes to drink a 16-ounce beverage. In Michigan we all know there is a ten-cent incentive to not throw away used beverage bottles, but are the other benefits clear? What about the other recyclable materials that we have in our homes? As an example, take a minute to consider the life of a plastic bottle:
It is a complicated process to create a bottle that is typically used by a consumer for less than 30 minutes. When that beverage bottle is placed in the garbage can, its life is over, being buried in a landfill where it will take over 400 years to decompose. If that beverage bottle is recycled, it can be transformed back into the same plastic pellets used to make it in the first place. While it takes energy to transport and recycle materials, the energy put into recycling supports a “loop” in which natural resources do not go to waste. Before you place something in your garbage can, be sure to ask yourself - “Is this really garbage?”
Where can I find drop-off locations near me?
The Michigan Recycling Directory can help you find a nearby drop-off recycling location and which materials are accepted at each location.
Why does curbside recycling cost money?
Recycling centers must sort and process the tons of materials that are hauled to them. That requires paying workers to separate recyclables by hand as well as investing in complex machinery that sorts by material composition and bales recyclables for use in new products.
For their part, haulers have to pay for trucks and gas to collect recycling curbside, as well as pay a fee to the recycling center to cover the cost of preparing materials for recycling.
Recycling facilities fund their operations with the hauler fees and money made from selling recycled materials to companies to make new products. Further, since prices paid for recyclable materials fluctuate constantly, hauler fees are necessary to ensure service costs are covered.
What is dual stream recycling?
“Dual stream recycling” is a more traditional method of recycling that is still very common across the state of Michigan. Dual stream recycling requires individuals to sort their recyclables into different categories, commonly requiring fiber materials (paper, corrugated cardboard, paperboard, etc.) to be separated from plastics, metal, and glass.
What is single stream recycling?
There are two common types of recycling collection program designs. “Single stream recycling” allows you to put all of your recyclable items into a single cart, often including plastics, metal, fiber materials (paper, corrugated cardboard, paperboard, etc.), and glass. Due to the convenience factor, which tends to increase participation in the program, single stream recycling is a continually growing recycling service and is common in large population areas.
Say hello to the Recycling Raccoon squad
Hey, neighbor! We are the Recycling Raccoon Squad. Our mission is to help Michigan recycle better, smarter, more efficiently and more adorably. (We’ll handle that last one if you want.)
To accomplish our mission, we have created a clear set of simple rules for you to follow that will help you become the best of the best at recycling.