Garbage Burning Dangers Highlighted by Temp Inversions

Posted on January 31st, 2018

Emmet County DPW Media Release, January 31, 2018

Backyard burning of garbage is largely illegal in Michigan and it is practiced by only a tiny percent of residents–even in rural areas—but it has an outsized health impact. Inversions of the usual temperature gradient in the atmosphere highlight the danger by holding the smoke in low clouds of fog near the source.

Residents who burn their garbage may think it is better to do it in the cold months because neighbors will have their windows closed. However, the pollution created by burning garbage has far more serious effects than smell. In recognition of this, the State of Michigan banned backyard burning of most household garbage in 2012. (For ban details, visit Michigan.gov and search for “Burning of Trash”.)

When modern trash is burned, cancer-causing and otherwise toxic compounds like lead, mercury, hydrocarbons, and hexachlorobenzene are released in the smoke. Even burning paper (which is about the only flammable material not included in the ban) releases dioxin, a carcinogen which is potent even at very low levels. And, of course, what goes up must come down. When these chemicals come down over farms, forests, and lakes they are consumed by livestock, wildlife, and fish

ECR Leader Presents at National Recycling Conference

Posted on September 7th, 2017

Elisa Seltzer (third from left), Director of Emmet County Recycling (DPW), participates in a plenary panel at the Resource Recycling Conference.

The Resource Recycling Conference is THE recycling conference of the year.  The 2017 Conference was held in Minneapolis MN, August 27-30 and not only were Emmet County Recycling staff there, but our Director, Elisa Seltzer was on a panel that presented to the entire conference audience.

Based on the strength of our policy foundation, our comprehensive programs, and the quantities of material recovered (thanks to our fantastic customers!) Elisa was invited to speak as part of the Wednesday Plenary Session. The topic was “Hacking Recycling – Tools and Tricks for Your Program.” After briefly describing our county and region and giving an overview of our recycling systems, she emphasized some of the innovative policy, funding, and outreach tools that have been central to our success.

Click the link below to view the slide show.

RRC Hacking Recycling Tools & Tips 2017

Emmet Recyclers Honored by National Recycling Organization

Posted on August 29th, 2017

Emmet County Recycling (ECR) was recognized by the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) in the “Outstanding Community/Government Program” category on Monday night, August 28, 2017.  The NRC awards were presented at the Resource Recycling Conference in Minneapolis, MN.  Representing ECR at the Conference were (center above) Outreach Specialist Lindsey Walker and Director Elisa Seltzer.  They were joined in celebrating the accomplishment by (left) Michigan Recycling Coalition Director Kerrin O’Brien and (right) NRC Board President Bob Gedert.  The Michigan Recycling Coalition—with which Emmet County works closely–was also recognized by the NRC as the Outstanding Recycling Organization.

Economy Focus of Legislators’ Tour of Recycling Center

Posted on August 28th, 2017

With Governor Snyder and the MDEQ expected to propose legislation to strengthen recycling in Michigan this fall, State Senator Wayne Schmidt and Lee Chatfield, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Michigan House of Representatives toured the Emmet County Pleasantview Road Drop-off Center on Tuesday August 22. The tour focused on the economic and jobs benefits improved recycling could yield for the state.


The Emmet County recycling and waste disposal facility is looked to as a model both for its performance and for its funding mechanism.  While Michigan as a whole recycles just 15 percent of its waste—compared to an average of 30% in the Great Lakes States—Emmet County recycled upwards of 40%.


97% of the material recycled through Emmet County supplies Michigan businesses.  In 2015, Emmet County Recycling produced roughly 15,000 tons of recycled materials and employed over 20 full time equivalent (FTE) people.  Landfilling the same material would have employed an estimated 2 FTE.  At the same time sale of the materials brought in $626,900 to help fund the recycling program and saved residents and businesses an estimated $1,740,000 in disposal costs.


Emmet County Recycling also derives funding from County Waste Transfer Station revenues, a model under

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