Governor Rick Snyder wants to double the state’s recycling rate over the next two years. He announced a plan Monday that would cost $1.5 million and encourage communities to make recycling more accessible to residents. The initiative is designed to boost the state’s current 15% recycling rate to 30% by 2017. The national average is 35%.
Dan Wyant, Director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality says $435 million worth of paper, glass, plastics and other materials that could be recycled winds up in landfills each year. The Governor’s Recycling Plan would create grants for communities to establish and expand recycling efforts. The plan does not change the state's bottle bill. Wyant said, “When you look at the bottles as a total percent of the entire waste stream it's still quite small. So if we're going to move the needle with respect to expanding recycling, curbside is the answer. Convenience is the answer and then developing markets for the stuff that we recycle."
The city of Lansing recently expanded it’s curbside recycling program. Officials say they’ve learned if you make it easy for people to recycle they will. Lori Welch, Environmental Specialist, says “We don't require our residents to separate it. We give them a nice big cart on wheels and all they need to do is fill that up and put it out to the curb and we take it from there. We've seen up to a 95% increase in the participation and the tonnage. So it's been pretty amazing."
The statewide recycling plan also includes public education, and better tracking of recycling efforts.
Wyant says his office drafted the plan after working with 45 stakeholders including recyclers, landfill operators and waste haulers.