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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder disclosed a statewide plan designed to increase residential recycling access statewide. He also appointed a nine-member Michigan Recycling Council to guide the plan’s implementation.


In his November 2012 Special Message on Energy and the Environment, Snyder called on the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to assemble a stakeholder group tasked with developing a plan. The governor presented his plan during a tour of Clean Tech Inc., Michigan’s largest plastic bottle recycling plant, near Monroe.

“Michigan has a strong tradition of protecting and enhancing its environment,” Snyder said. “But when it comes to recycling, we must do better. Michigan trails other Great Lakes states and much of the nation in residential recycling. It’s a complex challenge but one that we can address. This plan puts us on the right path.”

Michigan’s recycling rate for residential household waste is about 15 percent. The national average is 35 percent. A recent study concluded more than $435 million in recyclable metal, glass, paper and plastics goes from Michigan households to Michigan landfills each year.

“States with healthy recycling programs have found that, in addition to reducing pressure on landfills and helping the environment, recycling creates jobs and opens markets for recovered materials,” Snyder said. “We’ve been throwing away money for decades. Addressing this issue is simply the right thing to do.”

The 15 point plan focuses on 4 key areas:

•Benchmark and measure progress – including developing ways to better track Michigan’s recycling rate and document the progress of the state’s effort.
•Public education and technical assistance for communities – other states report that an informed and supportive public is a key to increasing recycling, along with providing tools for local governments to develop local programs.
•Provide convenient access – successful recycling programs feature convenient access at the local level.
•Develop markets – stimulation of market opportunities for recycled products will be addressed with grants and other economic incentives.

The DEQ drafted the plan in cooperation with 45 key stakeholders including recyclers, landfill operators, manufacturers, waste haulers, bottlers, grocery store operators and others.

The effort is supported by a $1 million appropriation in the governor’s recommended fiscal year 2015 budget, along with $500,000 in DEQ pollution prevention grants that will be committed to support local recycling programs over the next 2 years.

Appointees to the newly created Michigan Recycling Council are:

•Michael Csapo, of Fenton, will represent the recycling community and is the general manager of Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County.
•Jim Frey, of Detroit, will represent academics and consultants. He is chief executive officer and co-founder of Resource Recycling Systems and has over 30 years of expertise in environmental program development both in public service and private enterprise.
•Linda Gobler, of Lansing, will represent the retailers on the council. She is president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Grocers Association, where she has served in multiple capacities for the past 28 years. She previously served as a legislative analyst for the Michigan House of Representatives and as an administrator for the Greater Lansing Urban League.
•Jim Kulp, of Dexter, will represent the processors. He has worked 32 years with Plastipak Packaging, and currently is the operations manager for Clean Tech Inc., the state’s largest bottle recycling facility.
•Bill Lobenherz, of Lansing, will represent the bottlers. He has served as the president of the Michigan Soft Drink Association for more than 25 years. He has also worked as an attorney for Dykema Gossett PLLC, as vice president of Wayne State University, the legal counsel for Michigan School Board Association, and as a drafter for the Legislative Service Bureau.
•Kerrin O’Brien, of East Lansing, will represent environmental interests. She is the executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition and has also worked as an independent consultant, executive director of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, resource recovery agent, and a grant coordinator.
•Tonia Olson, of Lansing, will represent waste haulers, waste industry, and landfill owners and operators. She is the director of governmental and community relations for Granger. She also chairs the Michigan Chamber Energy and Environment Committee. She has worked as a director of marketing and communications and as a recycling coordinator.
•Elisa Seltzer, of Levering, will represent public and community
interests. She has been the public works director for Emmet County for 24 years. She has also worked as a curbside recycling coordinator and personnel coordinator for Recycle Ann Arbor.
•Doug Wood, of Muskegon, will represent local government and regions. He is the director of the Kent County Department of Public Works. He has also worked as the executive vice president of ECH Recycling Inc., a project manager for a county resource recovery agency, the manager of a county waste-to-energy project, and as manager of the environmental health division of a county health department.

All members are appointed to a two year term on the council.

Published in the June 2014 Edition of American Recycler News