The effort, which is funded by EGLE and the national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership with special support from the PepsiCo Foundation, will help build on the success of Michigan’s national award-winning Know It Before You Throw It recycling education campaign that EGLE launched last year.
“We are committed to informing and inspiring more people than ever before in Detroit and across Michigan about how to recycle better,” Clark said during a morning news conference at the Detroit Dept. of Public Works where she was joined by Detroit Office of Sustainability Director Joel Howrani Heeres, city and nonprofit leaders as well as Detroit-area state legislators.
“Increasing recycling and improving the quality of materials we’re recycling is not only the right thing to do for our environment, but it also saves energy, reduces water use, decreases greenhouse gases, conserves resources and translates into local jobs,” Clark said.
The aim of the first-of-its-kind Know It Before You Throw It statewide push is to better inform Michiganders on what can – and cannot – be recycled and how to recycle correctly.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state legislators want 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. Equally important, EGLE and its campaign partners across the state are promoting awareness of cleaner recycling practices to reduce the amount of contaminated materials improperly going into recycling bins.
The nearly $800,000 in grants to Detroit includes more than $458,000 from EGLE and $325,000 from The Recycling Partnership that will help fund new services offered this year by the city’s Department of Public Works in its multifamily, commercial and public space recycling programs.
“The Recycling Partnership’s grant of $325,000 is its first-ever to Detroit and will help spur a citywide education campaign rolling out in 2020 to increase participation in curbside and multifamily recycling programs,” Howrani Heeres said. “It’s time for each of us to step up our efforts and increase the quantity and quality of recycling in every Detroit home and business.”
The collaboration between Detroit, EGLE and The Recycling Partnership, with special support from the PepsiCo Foundation, will increase residential access to recycling and collection capacity in Detroit through the purchase of 16,400 curbside recycling carts and nearly 4,000 multifamily containers. Grant funds also will provide additional collection capacity through commercial, public space and municipal recycling containers of various sizes and a collection vehicle.
“Implementing curbside recycling with carts is an exciting initiative that can have huge benefits for the city,” said Cody Marshall, Chief Community Strategy Officer at The Recycling Partnership. “The more we recycle, the more we reduce pollution and conserve resources. We are excited to work with the City of Detroit to provide curbside carts to more residents throughout the city.”
“We’re proud to work with The Recycling Partnership and city and state leaders to make these important investments in Detroit that will help more than 76,000 families increase their recycling and capture an estimated additional 1,315 tons of recyclables per year,” said Tim Carey, Vice President, Sustainability PepsiCo Beverages North America. “Our investment in Detroit’s recycling is part of PepsiCo’s global work to help build a circular future for packaging and a world where plastics need never become waste. Working together, we can help reach Michigan’s goal to increase statewide recycling by 30 percent.”
Recycling across Michigan is receiving a major boost as state legislators have increased EGLE’s funding for recycling projects from $2 million in FY2018 to $15 million in FY 2019-2020. The additional funds are being used to support development of recycling markets, increase access to recycling opportunities, and support planning efforts to grow recycling at the local level.
“As a community, we’re discarding more than 100,000 tons of materials each year that could be recycled instead of being tossed in the trash,” said state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit. “This grant will help us divert even more waste from our landfills.”
“These recycling grants are a tremendous step forward in helping Detroit implement thoughtful recycling programs while also delivering infrastructure support to help promote and expand recycling in our city,” said state Sen. Betty Jean Alexander, D-Detroit.
“The broad support that exists for recycling in Detroit – from neighborhood and community groups, industry, environmental advocates, waste management, and all types of materials groups – also reveals a strong consensus exists among all stakeholders that education and outreach is essential to help improve our recycling systems,” said state Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson, D-Detroit.
Highlighting today’s news conference was the Detroit debut of EGLE’s Michigan Recycling Raccoon Squad, a six-member team of recycling champions who serve as EGLE’s education ambassadors. EGLE 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 many municipalities statewide.
- 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.
In addition to the Detroit grant, EGLE and The Recycling Partnership new 2020 grant opportunities across Michigan totaling $1.5 million to communities seeking to improve material quality in residential curbside and drop-off recycling programs. This commitment from the state of Michigan will strengthen the state recycling system by providing quality materials to manufacturing facilities that depend on them to create new products and ultimately back to consumers who want to buy them.
Any Michigan municipality, township, county or regional authority representing a group of communities currently operating a curbside and/or drop-off recycling program is eligible to apply for up to $150,000 per grant application. Funding may be used for cart tagging, education and communication, social media, signage, and other tactics aimed at reducing contamination. Applications are due Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.
“EGLE’s Know It Before You Throw It campaign is developing the consistency in recycling messaging that Michigan needs to successfully improve the quality of recycling material for end markets in the state of Michigan and beyond,” The Recycling Partnership’s Marshall said. “Strengthening the state recycling system and reducing trash and other non-recyclables in the recycling helps transform our economy from a linear one to circular, helps reduce the need of using new natural resources and supports local jobs.”
The Know It Before You Throw It campaign comes at a time when communities across Michigan and the U.S. are struggling with international market shifts for recyclables. At the same time, recyclers nationwide are placing a priority on shipping cleaner materials to their customers with an emphasis that generating more clean recyclables can create jobs and build stronger local economies.
The recycling industry in Michigan generates nearly 36,000 jobs statewide and an annual payroll of $2.6 billion, a 2016 analysis commissioned by EGLE shows. Achieving EGLE’s 30% recycling goal would produce a statewide total of 13,000 new jobs, which translates into an additional economic impact of at least $300 million annually, according to findings from the Expanding Recycling in Michigan Report prepared for the Michigan Recycling Partnership.
Know It Before You Throw It was recently named Recycling Campaign of the Year by Waste Dive, a leading industry news publisher based in Washington, D.C.