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 consideration for improving funding of recycling in the state. A portion of what is paid to dispose of waste in the county is used to support recycling and household hazardous waste disposal programs. To facilitate this funding mechanism and to provide a level playing field for private waste haulers, a county Solid Waste Ordinance requires that nearly all waste generated in the county be disposed at the Transfer Station which is located at the Pleasantview Road facility. Waste collected at the facility is hauled to Republic Service’s landfill south of Onaway by Poquette Leasing.
For three years, Emmet County Recycling (DPW) Director Elisa Seltzer has served on boards advising the Governor on improving recycling in Michigan. Their 2017 Report and Recommendations can be viewed at https://www.emmetrecycling.org/everything-else/governors-recycling-council/. This report is informing legislation currently being drafted for presentation in the fall. “I grew up using the Robinson Road recycling drop site,” said Chatfield, who represents the 107th District. “I look forward to seeing the legislation the Governor is proposing.”
Also participating in the tour were County Commissioners Toni Drier, Jonathan Scheel and Betsy White; DPW Board Members Bill Dohm (Superintendent of Little Traverse Township) and Jack Jones; Interim County Administrator Mary Mitchell, and Michigan Recycling Coalition Director Kerrin O’Brien.