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Recycling Up Significantly Locally

October 4, 2012
Recycling Up Significantly Locally

Good news for the eco-conscious: the amount locals are recycling is up, the amount they’re tossing in the trash is declining, and the gap between the two is widening.

Kalkaska-based American Waste, which nabbed the contract to become Traverse City’s sole waste hauler in early 2011, tells The Ticker that nearly 70 percent of the household refuse American Waste now collects in all of Grand Traverse County – either curbside or at its drop-off sites – gets recycled rather than ending up in a landfill.

That’s twice the percentage that was recycled a year ago.

“A lot of people tell me, ‘I have way more recycling than trash every week,” says Kelly Ignace, spokeswoman for the waste collecting company.

Recycling in Grand Traverse County (and nationally) has been trending upward slightly for several years, but this year it’s expected to rise by more than 1,000 tons over last year. Volumes have hovered around 10,000 tons per year since 2007, according to figures by the county’s resource recovery department.

The reason? Over the past two years, American Waste invested nearly $9 million in an advanced sorting facility that combines mechanical and hand-sorting methods, leaving less sorting to consumers.

The company has also been simplifying its drop-off site bins so that people can dump everything but glass into the same compartments. Previously, people had to separate paper, plastic and metals.

And, both the drop-off and curbside pickup services now accept grades 1-7 plastics – as well as plastic bags and plastics without a recycling number (previously only grades 1 and 2 were accepted).

Meanwhile, landfill volumes have trended downward each year. In 2007, the county generated about 82,000 tons of refuse for area landfills; this year that will drop to an anticipated 67,000 tons. One factor: recessions cut trash output as fewer purchases mean less disposable packaging.

Despite the progress, landfill volumes remain significantly higher than recycling because they also include commercial, industrial and construction waste – which consistently generate more refuse than households. The shrinking landfill volume is good news for Grand Traverse County. The longer it takes to fill an existing dump, the longer that dump can be used, says County Resource Recovery Manager Bob Osterhout. Grand Traverse trash goes to landfills in Leelanau, Manistee and Wexford counties.


Most Recent Comments

 
Karen Segal on October 4, 2012 3:56pm

It's estimated that 30% of what is going to landfills is compostable materials, stuff that should be going back to enrich our earth and instead creates methane because it turns to goo in the landfill. Congratulations to American Waste on recycling -- let's now move to the next step and offer a composting program for the community, similar to European models.

don hutchinson on October 4, 2012 3:14pm

American Waste deserves a great big, "job well done" for improving the recycle. i now often have only one small kitchen bag a week and alot more recycleable stuff.
The 1 thru 7 plastic acceptance is a boon.
Kudos for having the sense to invest in the recycle sorter.....

Don

jokester on October 4, 2012 3:04pm

I carefully sort my refuse before dumping it into the bay. (joking)

Jim on October 4, 2012 12:56pm

I've recently contracted with American Waste for energy Efficient lighting initiative. They are very environmentally conscious. This Project will reduce over 1.8 million pounds of Carbon Dioxides into the atmosphere.

Lynn Feeter on October 4, 2012 12:31pm

So please explain to me why Leelanau County in its wisdom has decided that come January they will be removing the very popular recycling "center" on Cherry Bend Rd. That makes no sense no matter how you look at it.

Mark D on October 4, 2012 11:24am

Wouldn't it be nice if Grand Traverse County would get on board with this trend and contract trash and recycling pick up with one hauler (and I'd say that American is certainly an obvious choice) for it's residents? We had this in Genesee County before I moved here, and it was so simple. Only one truck a week coming down our streets, and the lower than here charge added to our property tax bill. But our county comissioners don't listen to their constituents.

Kathy Maisonville on October 4, 2012 10:52am

I think it is admirable that American Waste has been a leader in recylcing in our area. They have made a huge investment in infrastructure and I believe it is important for us now to do our part as citizens and "fill the bins"!

jeff on October 4, 2012 10:00am

American Waste does a nice job and has always been helpful both on the phone and in the field. Truly, not having to sort recycled waste has made the difference. Keep up the good work AW.

Jo Ann on October 4, 2012 9:35am

Commercial businesses in the city are only able to recycle paper. It would be good if we could also recycle plastic and glass.

H. on October 4, 2012 9:22am

If you go with Bay Area Recycling for Charities they do offer a 'larger, wheeled cart' for curbside recycling. They also pick up once a month, so you don't have two trucks on the road every week. Actually, American *might* offer a larger container for recyclables; you'll have to ask. I remember asking but don't remember what the answer was as I decided I was too fed up with multiple trucks every week and decided to go with BARC.

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