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Over 12,500 pounds of empty water bottles recycled through program at Benton Harbor High School

City of Benton Harbor residents urged to recycle water bottles through the program

LANSING, Mich. – More than 12,500 pounds of empty water bottles have been recycled through a plastic water bottle recycling program located at Benton Harbor High School, 870 Colfax Avenue. The program is offered during State of Michigan water distribution hours.

Five trailers of empty water bottles have been processed and a sixth trailer is currently accepting empty water bottles. More than 12.5 million bottles of free water have been distributed since September 2021.

Residents are being encouraged to take home 33-gallon, clear plastic bags from the bottle distribution site to return empty water bottles at the high school during water distribution hours. Caps may be left on the bottles and bottles can be crushed, but do not need to be in order to be recycled. Only water bottles can be recycled at this site.

Plastic bags for recycling are also available for delivery, and empty water bottles will be collected during State of Michigan homebound deliveries.

Free bottled water continues to be provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) for City of Benton Harbor residents for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing foods and mixing powdered infant formula.

A recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study confirms that certified filters, properly installed and maintained, are effective in reducing lead in Benton Harbor drinking water. The Berrien County Health Department has filters available free of charge.

The ongoing response in Benton Harbor includes the city, Berrien County Health Department, local community organizations, MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for the replacement of lead service lines in Benton Harbor in 18 months and the Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration has provided just under $20 million to Benton Harbor to speed up their service line replacement timeline.  

There is no cost to City of Benton Harbor residents for lead service line replacement. To assist with assuring the work can be completed as soon as possible, residents are encouraged to complete the Water Service Line Replacement Agreement available online. Contractors cannot begin work on any property without property owner authorization. Completed forms submitted online or returned to Abonmarche, 95 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 or emailed to Sandy Riehl at For questions, call 269-926-4557.

These efforts also include recently approved funds to remove lead from homes in the city. Families living in Benton Harbor can apply for this service by filling out and mailing in an application that is available online. Residents also can call 866-691-5323 to obtain information. 

For questions about lead, MDHHS can be reached at 866-691-5323 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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